Effective January 18, 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expanded the categories of non-U.S. citizens required to provide digital fingerprints and a photograph upon entry to the United States through the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) Program. Previously, certain temporary visitors (such as entrants under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)) had been subject to US-VISIT procedures. The program expansion adds virtually all non-U.S. citizens, including lawful permanent residents (green card holders), arriving at airports to US-VISIT. Among those excepted from coverage are Canadians applying for admission to the United States as B-1/B-2 visitors and most lawful permanent residents arriving though land ports.
As a reminder to VWP travelers, registration through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is now required prior to traveling to the United States. Visitors may apply for travel authorization via the ESTA website.
On June 1, the DHS’ Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will go into effect at land and sea ports of entry, requiring U.S. and Canadian citizens to present an approved travel document to enter the United States. The approved documents include a passport, a passport card, a NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST trusted traveler program card, or a state or province-issued enhanced driver’s license. Travelers under age 16 need to present only a birth certificate or alternative proof of citizenship. More stringent requirements are already in place for Canadian citizens traveling by air to, through or from the United States. All travelers, including children, must present either a passport or a NEXUS card when using kiosks at participating airports. For more information on the new travel requirements, visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.
Note: This article was published in the February 2009 issue of the Immigration eAuthority.