Department of Homeland Security Begins US-VISIT Biometric Exit Pilot at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

WASHINGTON, May 18 /PRNewswire/ — U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that beginning today, foreign visitors departing from Seattle- Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) are required to follow checkout procedures before departing on their flights. Visitors are asked to provide their two index fingerscans and hold for a digital photo as part of a pilot program to test and evaluate an automated biometric exit process.

US-VISIT procedures apply to all foreign visitors (with limited exemptions) to the United States. Most visitors experience US-VISIT’s biometric procedures — a digital, inkless fingerscan and digital photograph — upon entry to the United States. Now, if they leave from an airport or seaport that has an exit capability like that of Sea-Tac, they must also check out.

The exit procedure being piloted at Sea-Tac requires foreign visitors departing the United States to check out of the country at exit stations located within the airport. Similar to the entry process at airports or seaports, their travel documents will be read, their two index fingers will be scanned at the exit station, their digital picture will be taken, and they will receive a printed receipt that verifies that they have checked out. A workstation attendant will be available to assist with checkout.

To help the process run smoothly, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers will provide foreign visitors with a card explaining the exit process when they arrive in the United States at one of the airports participating in the pilot. Directional map cards will be distributed by the airlines and signs will be strategically located throughout the airport directing the visitors to the exit stations.

US-VISIT exit procedures are currently being piloted at Baltimore/Washington International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Denver International Airport, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Long Beach and San Pedro seaports near Los Angeles, Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Miami International Cruise Line Terminal, Newark Liberty International Airport, Philadelphia International Airport and San Francisco International Airport.

US-VISIT is a top priority for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It enhances security for our citizens and visitors while facilitating legitimate travel and trade across our borders.

US-VISIT entry procedures are currently in place at 115 airports, 15 seaports and in the secondary inspection areas of the 50 busiest land ports of entry. By December 31, 2005, US-VISIT entry procedures will be implemented in the secondary inspection areas of all remaining land ports of entry.

To date, more than 25 million foreign visitors have been processed through US-VISIT without adversely impacting wait times, and more than 590 criminals or immigration violators have been denied admission to the United States because of US-VISIT.

US-VISIT is helping the United States demonstrate that it remains a welcoming nation — that we can keep America’s doors open and our nation secure. For more information on US-VISIT, or to learn more about exit procedures, please visit the US-VISIT Web site at http://www.dhs.gov/us-visit .

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