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Program to Provide Fingerprint Scans at U.S. Embassies and Airports Made Permanent

Dec 30, 2004

On December 30, 2004 the U.S. Department of State announced that the Biometric Visa Program will become a permanent program, effective December 26, 2004. This program was created by the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act. It requires both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants to enroll their fingerscans of two of their index fingers and submit photographs with their visa applications at the U.S. consulate. The U.S. consulate will cross check the fingerscans with various security checks and watchlists. The program is being run in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT program. When a person arrives at the U.S. port-of-entry with a visa, he is also fingerscanned. The system will compare the fingerscans obtained at the port-of-entry to the ones that are submitted at the visa application at the U.S. consulate or Embassy. This process ensures that the person who applied for the visa is the same person entering the country. Certain people are exempt from this process. This includes diplomats, NATO visa holders, people under 14 and persons over the age of 80. However, applicants age 7 and above who are applying for a nonimmigrant visa at a consular post in Mexico are still required to issue a fingerscan in conformance with the Border Crossing Card program.

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