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DHS expands authority to collect Biometric data for USVISIT
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United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology Program ("US-VISIT''); Authority to Collect Biometric Data From Additional Travelers and Expansion to the 50 Most Highly Trafficked Land Border Ports of Entry

AGENCY: Border and Transportation Security Directorate, DHS.

SUMMARY: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Technology Program (US-VISIT), an integrated, automated entry-exit system that records the arrival and departure of aliens; verifies aliens' identities; and authenticates aliens' travel documents through comparison of biometric identifiers. On January 5, 2004, DHS implemented the first phase of US-VISIT by publishing an interim rule in the Federal Register at 69 FR 468. The January 5, 2004 interim rule authorized DHS to require aliens seeking to be admitted to the United States pursuant to nonimmigrant visas to provide fingerprints, photographs, or other biometric identifiers upon arrival in, or departure from, the United States at air and sea ports of entry. This interim rule expands the US-VISIT program to the 50 most highly trafficked land border ports of entry in the United States. These 50 land borders will be integrated into the US-VISIT program following identification in Notices published in the Federal Register, with all 50 ports of entry to be identified no later than December 31, 2004.

This interim rule also further defines the population of aliens who are required to provide biometric identifiers and other identifying information under the US-VISIT program. First, DHS may require biometric data collection from nonimmigrant aliens who are visa exempt under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). While this interim rule provides that DHS has the authority to require Mexican nationals who present a Border Crossing Card to provide biometric data upon arrival in, or departure from, the United States, the Secretaries of DHS and the Department of State (DOS) have jointly determined that BCC travelers who are not required to be issued a Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record at the time of admission are exempt from the US-VISIT biometric data collection requirements. Second, certain officials of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office are exempt from the US-VISIT biometric data collection requirements. Third, crewmembers applying for landing privileges may be required to provide biometric data under US-VISIT.

This interim rule also makes technical changes to US-VISIT as a result of comments received by DHS on the January 5, 2004 interim rule. Finally, DHS solicits public comment on all aspects of the operation of US-VISIT to date, as well as the expansion of US-VISIT pursuant to this interim rule.

DATES: Effective date: This interim rule is effective September 30, 2004.

Comment date: Written comments must be submitted on or before November 1, 2004.

ADDRESSES: Because DHS does not yet have electronic docketing capability, for the purposes of this rule, we are using the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Docket Management System for US-VISIT. You may submit comments identified by RIN 1615-AA00 to the Docket Management Facility at the EPA. To avoid duplication, please use only one of the following methods:

(1) Web site: http://www.epa.gov/edocket. Follow the instructions for submitting comments at that web site.

(2) Mail: Written comments may be submitted to Michael Hardin, Senior Policy Advisor, US-VISIT, Border and Transportation Security; Department of Homeland Security; 1616 North Fort Myer Drive, 18th Floor, Arlington, VA 22209.

(5) Federal eRulemaking portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

Submitted comments may be inspected at 1616 North Ft. Myer Drive, Arlington, VA 22209, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday except Federal holidays. Arrangements to inspect submitted comments should be made in advance by calling (202) 298-5200. You may also find this docket on the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/edocket You may also access the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT: Michael Hardin, Senior Policy Advisor, US-VISIT, Border and Transportation Security, Department of Homeland Security, 1616 Fort Myer Drive, 18th Floor, Arlington, Virginia 22209, (202) 298-5200.


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