US VISIT - Entry/Exit system
Under the US-VISIT program, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) collects the 10 fingerprints and digital photographs of most non-U.S. citizens while getting the U.S. visa and also while entering the U.S. It provides the biometric identification services to federal, state and local government decision makers. Collecting the biometrics information helps immigration officers determines whether a particular person is eligible to receive a visa or enter the U.S. Biometrics collection prevents identity fraud as unlike names and dates of birth that can be changes, biometrics are unique and virtually impossible to forge. It helps the U.S. government prevent people from using fraudulent documents to enter the U.S. illegally. It also helps identify the persons who have overstayed in the U.S.

The goals of US-VISIT are to:
  • Enhance the security of our citizens and visitors
  • Expedite legitimate travel and trade
  • Ensure the integrity of the immigration system
  • Safeguard the personal privacy of the visitors

US-VISIT will enhance the security of the United States while expediting legitimate travel and trade. The United States of America is a nation where diversity is celebrated and people from all over the world are welcome. Today, the United States - like most other countries - is working to keep its borders secure while it maintains the freedom to exchange ideas, keep businesses thriving, and enrich lives all over the world.

Applicability
With limited exceptions listed below, US-VISIT applies to all international visitors including those entering under the Visa Waiver Program and permanent residents (green card holders) of the U.S. US-VISIT does not apply to U.S. citizens (including naturalized U.S. citizens) .

Exceptions for US-VISIT include:
  • Visitors admitted on most diplomatic visa classifications such as an A-1, A-2, C-3, G-1 through G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-6 visa
  • Children under the age of 14 years and person over the age of 79 years
  • Classes of visitors the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security jointly determine shall be exempt
  • An individual visitor the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Director of Central Intelligence Agency jointly determine shall be exempt
  • Taiwan officials who hold E-1 visa and members of their immediate families
  • Special applicability to Canadian citizens
  • Special applicability to Mexican citizens
  • At sea ports, LPRs (permanent residents) returning from a close loop cruise (cruises that begin and end at the same port in the U.S.)

Privacy
Personal information collected by US-VISIT will be used only for the purposes for which it was collected, unless specifically authorized or mandated by law.

All data obtained from the visitor is securely stored as a part of the visitor's travel record. This information is made available only to authorized officials and selected law enforcement agencies on a need-to-know basis in their efforts to help protect the nation against those who intend to harm Americans or visitors to the United States.

10 fingerprints and a digital photograph
Using a ink-less biometric device, your 10 digital fingerprints will be taken. As shown in the above images, you will be fingerprinted with your right four fingers, then right thumb, then left four fingers, then left thumb and a digital photograph with a digital camera will be taken. This procedure is called collecting your biometrics.

Visa application
When you apply for a U.S. visa, among other procedures your biometrics will be collected.

Upon arrival
When you arrive in the U.S., keep your travel documents ready.

By air and sea:
Please review port of entry procedures for detailed information about entering the U.S.

Additionally, a Customs and Border Protection officer will collect your fingerprints (scan your fingerprints taken your photograph with a digital camera.)

By land:
US-VISIT biometric procedures are the similar, as described above, will occur at the port's secondary inspection area.

Please refer to the following information for more information about Mexico and Canada border.

Mexico Border
While entering the U.S. by land at Mexico border, general exceptions to US-VISIT, as described above, apply. Following additional rules apply:
  • Mexican citizens:
    • If you are traveling to and from the U.S. using a Border Crossing Card (BCC) (also known as a "laser visa") and traveling only within the border zone, you are not subject to US-VISIT procedures, unless the immigration official asks for a secondary inspection.
    • If you are planning to travel outside the border zone and/or stay more than 30 days, you must complete a Form I-94 and you are subject to US-VISIT procedures.

    Additional Information:
    • Mexican citizens who participate in SENTRI (Secured Electronic Network for Traveler's Rapid Inspection) and/or FAST (Free and Secure Trade) will not be enrolled in US-VISIT until they are required to re-register as part of the routine processing to renew a multiple-entry Form I-94.
    • Multiple-entry Forms I-94 will continue to be issued as before. All current, valid Forms I-94 remain in effect and the US-VISIT biometric collection requirements will apply either at the time of the next issuance of the Form I-94 or at any time at the discretion of the Customs and Border Protection Officer.

  • Non-Mexican citizens: Unless you are permanent resident of the U.S., all non-Mexican citizens must complete a Form I-94 and be subject to US-VISIT procedures if they are not LPRs (permanent residents). On the other hand, LPRs (permanent residents) will be subject to US-VISIT only if they are referred to secondary inspection.

Canada Border
While entering the U.S. by land at Canada border, general exceptions to US-VISIT, as described above, apply. Following additional rules apply:
  • Canadian citizens:
    Most Canadian citizens are exempt from the US-VISIT program. That includes:
    • Those who are visa-exempt or traveling on B1/B2 visa.
    • Studying or working in the U.S. who normally do not have non-immigrant visas in their passports.
    • Applicants for admission at primary vehicle inspection presenting a valid, unexpired, multiple-entry Form I-94 must be admitted without being subject to secondary inspection even if the applicant is not yet enrolled in US-VISIT.

    However, the following Canadians are subject to US-VISIT program:
    • Canadians with dual nationality who present a non-Canadian passport are subject to US-VISIT program.
    • Canadians who are required to obtain a Form I-94 or who require a waiver of admissibility to enter the U.S.

  • Non-Canadian citizens:
    Non-Canadian citizens entering the U.S. (including those entering on the U.S. Visa Waiver Program) are subject to US-VISIT program, including the following:
    • Canadian permanent residents
    • Current Canadian permanent residents who are participants in NEXUS (Canadian Border Dedicated Commuter Lane) and/or FAST (Free and Secure Trade) when they renew their multiple entry Form I-94s.
    • Visitors renewing their multiple-entry Form I-94. All current, valid Form I-94 remain in effect. US-VISIT biometric collection requirements will be either at the time of the next issuance of the Form I-94 or at the discretion of the Customs and Border Protection Officer.

    On the other hand, LPRs (permanent residents) will be subject to US-VISIT only if they are referred to secondary inspection.

Upon departure
When you leave the U.S., if applicable, you should return your Form I-94 (or I-94W) to an airline or ship representative. That completes the U.S. exit process.

Effective May 6, 2007 and at least as of Sep 2011, you are not required to provide your biometrics when departing the U.S. In future, all travelers who provide biometric when entering the U.S. will be required to provide biometrics when departing the U.S.

US-VISIT Procedures Video