Visitors Entering and Leaving the USA

By | Category: Travel rumblings

UPDATE: 17 MAY the Department of Homeland Security tells us that the greeen I-94 card will still be used for the time being (probably at least a year) as things run in parallel until a decision is made on when the I-94 can be dropped. They also confirm that on your first entry to the US you will have to have all 10 fingerprints made but on subsequent visits only the four fingers of the right hand will be required to be fingerprinted as this will provide a sufficient match with the previous data that they have recorded.

The Department of Homeland Security in the US has introduced some new procedures. Instead of just having index fingers fingerprinted, you will now have to have all fingers and thumbs scanned. Up until recently this has been tested at some airports but now it will go nationwide. Howevert if you have had this procedure done once (I was last in the US three months ago), it appears that you may not have to have it done again. I flew into New York’s JFK airport yesterday and whilst other passengers had all ten digits scanned, I only had the four fingers on my right hand scanned.
You will still have your photograph taken on entry as well.

I have written before about how the ESTA programme of filling in your contact details, passport information etc online will replace the I-94 green form that all visitors (unless you have a visa in which case it is white) have to complete. Despite the fact that ESTA is in place and that you won’t be allowed to enter the US unless you have completed this online form in advance, the I-94 forms are still in use, and are being stamped and checked at the point of entry. You still need to retain it in your passport for surrender when you leave.
A few years ago when I flew out of Chicago to return to the UK, I had my thumbs scanned by a portable reader before I was able to catch my flight. At sometime over the next year, it has been announced that capturing biometrics (presumably photographs and fingerprints) for all departing visitors will be introduced.

Back home, Manchester Airport has announced that at Terminal 2, hand searching will be replaced by body scanning. This trial has been approved by the European Commission and follows the test of a single machine at the terminal. If this test is successful, expect it to be employed at the other two terminals as well. The airport reiterates that the image cannot be stored or captured and that the offices that operate the body scanning machines will not be able to recognise people.

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