May 8 2007
US-VISIT Three-Year Pilot Program Completed
Late last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will incorporate biometric exit procedures into the current international visitor departure process. According to DHS, this change will make leaving the U.S. “more convenient and accessible for international visitors.”
Step one in this integration process was the testing of a three-year year pilot program that required international visitors to check out via biometric processes at certain specified airports and seaports. According to DHS, as of May 6, 2007, international visitors will not be required to check out at a US-VISIT kiosk when exiting the U.S. However, international visitors who received a Form I-94 (the Arrival-Departure Record) when entering the U.S. will still need to return that form to an airline or ship representative when leaving the U.S.
As part of the US-VISIT 2007 Expenditure Plan, DHS submitted to Congress an exit plan that incorporates lessons learned during the three-year pilot program. According to that publication, the technology worked effectively; however, there was low traveler compliance to regulations. DHS, based on findings from the pilot program, aims to incorporate the US-VISIT air exit procedures into existing international departure processes for visitors.
DHS plans to start implementing these exit procedures at all commercial airports in the near future. The Department is currently coming up with their ideal strategy; they will publish a regulation on this topic in the near future.