The Department of Homeland Security issued a final rule that will subject permanent residents (“green card” holders) to US-VISIT requirements, effective January 18, 2009. This change in the law reflects a significant expansion of the US-VISIT program.
The US-VISIT program was established in 2003 to verify the identities and travel documents of visitors to the United States. US-VISIT automates the verification process by collecting and comparing biometric identifiers with information drawn from intelligence and law enforcement watch lists and databases. Visitors subject to US-VISIT may be required to provide fingerscans, photographs, or other biometric identifiers upon arrival at, or departure from, the United States. Until this recent expansion of the US-VISIT program, only people entering the United States pursuant to a nonimmigrant (temporary) visa, or those traveling without a visa as part of the Visa Waiver Program, were subject to US-VISIT requirements, with certain limited exceptions.
Beginning next week, US-VISIT will apply to permanent residents between the ages of 14 and 79 entering the United States from an air or seaport. Permanent residents entering through land ports of entry will be required to provide fingerprints only if they are referred to secondary inspection.
At this time, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency responsible for inspection of foreign nationals entering the United States, has not issued guidance on when or how permanent residents will be processed through US-VISIT. We anticipate that permanent residents will continue to use the “U.S. Citizens/Permanent Residents” line when entering the United States. However, be advised that the entry process may take longer than usual so plan accordingly.
To obtain further information on the US-VISIT Program, please contact José A. Olivieri at 414.225.4967, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Kelly M. Fortier at 414.277.3460, or email@example.com.