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U.S. Expands Check on Foreign Visitors


Washington, DC – In a surprise move, the Homeland Security Department announced on April 2nd that new rules will take effect in six months  that would require citizens from 27  “visa waiver” countries to be fingerprinted and photographed  upon entering the United States.   The decision will close what the  government sees as a loophole in screening visitors. However, it  is expected to negatively impact international travel to the U.S. and international visitors to U.S. trade shows.

Starting this past January, government officials began taking digital photographs of visitors from most foreign countries,  and then electronically scanned their right and left index fingers. These were checked against U.S. anti-terrorism and crime databases. The screening  was part of the US-Visit program, which stands for United States Visitor & Immigrant Status Indicator Terminology.

Visitors from 27 countries had been exempt from the screening program.  Starting   September 30th,, citizens of these countries  will be fingerprinted and photographed when arriving in the U.S.:  Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

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