US Department of Homeland Security begins test of biometric exit procedures

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The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today began collecting biometrics – digital fingerprints – from non-US citizens departing the United States as part of a pilot program at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. Since 2004, biometrics have helped DHS prevent the use of fraudulent documents, protect visitors from identity theft, and stop thousands of criminals and immigration violators from entering the United States.

“Collecting biometrics allows us to determine faster and more accurately whether non-US citizens have departed the United States on time or remained in the country illegally,” said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. “The pilot programs in Atlanta and Detroit will help us determine and develop standard procedures for use at airports across the country to expedite legitimate travel and enhance our nation’s security.”

Non-US citizens leaving the United States from Detroit and Atlanta airports should expect to have their biometrics collected before boarding their flights. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers will collect biometrics at the boarding gate from non-US citizens departing from Detroit; US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers will collect biometrics at security checkpoints from non-US citizens departing from Atlanta. These pilots are expected to continue through early July.

US-VISIT plans to begin implementing new biometric exit procedures based on these pilots for non-US citizens departing the United States by air within the next year.

Non-US citizens departing the United States from all other ports of entry will continue to follow current exit procedures, which require travelers to return their paper Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) or Form I-94W (for Visa Waiver Program travelers) to an airline or ship representative.

Since 2004, the US Department of State (DOS) and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have collected biometrics from most non-US citizens between the ages of 14 and 79, with some exceptions, when they apply for visas or arrive at US ports of entry. US-VISIT has simultaneously worked to create a congressionally mandated automated biometric exit capability, which these pilots will test.

US-VISIT provides biometric identification services to federal, state, and local agencies. In collaboration with CBP and TSA, it is leading the testing and deployment efforts for biometric exit procedures.

For more information on US-VISIT, please visit www.dhs.gov/us-visit.