Proposed Expansion of US-VISIT to Include Canadians.

The Department of Homeland Security is now proposing to expand the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Technology (US–VISIT) program to all foreign citizens, including Canadian citizens, with limited exceptions.

US–VISIT was established in 2003 to verify the identities and travel documents of foreign citizens. The program automates verification by comparing biometric identifiers with information drawn from intelligence and law enforcement watch lists and databases. Individuals subject to US–VISIT may be required to provide finger scans, photographs, or other biometric identifiers upon arrival at, or departure from, the United States. Currently, foreign citizens entering the United States pursuant to a nonimmigrant visa, or those traveling without a visa as part of the Visa Waiver Program, are subject to US–VISIT requirements. Canadian citizens are generally exempt from these additional security requirements.

DHS’s proposed expansion of the US-VISIT program would subject the majority of Canadian citizens to the provision of biometric identifiers as required under the program. Canadian citizens applying for admission as B-1 or B-2 visitors for business or pleasure would be exempt from the proposed expansion. However, several large classes of Canadian citizens would be affected by the change in the regulations and be subject to enrollment in US-VISIT, including: Canadian citizens who are Lawful Permanent Residents of the U.S.; Canadians applying for most non-immigrant classifications such as TN, F-1, or H-1B status; and Canadians being paroled into the U.S.

The commentary period for this proposed regulation ends on August 28, 2006. After this commentary period, DHS will publish its final rule announcing any implementations of this proposal. To read the proposed rule in its entirety, click here. Stay tuned for updates on this topic.