U.S. Visit expands biometric collections

Foreign visitors departing from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport are being asked to scan their two index fingers and to pose for a digital photograph before leaving, under new procedures instituted March 30 by the Homeland Security Department.

The pilot program for exiting travelers, which is part of U.S. Visit, will help evaluate the usefulness of biometric data and technologies in verifying visitor identities.

The same biometric procedures under U.S. Visit are being applied to foreign travelers upon entry to 115 airports, 15 seaports and 50 land ports.

For exiting foreign travelers, pilot projects are operating at airports in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Newark, N.J., San Francisco and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Additional U.S. Visit exit programs will be initiated shortly at airports in Philadelphia and Los Angeles and the seaport in Long Beach, Calif., according to DHS.

"By testing and evaluating the exit processes, U.S. Visit can analyze the benefits and challenges of each in order to develop a system that enhances security while facilitating legitimate travel and ensuring Visitors' privacy," the agency said.

U.S. Visit is intended to screen travelers to the U.S. to identify possible criminal or terrorist suspects.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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