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.
More information is available at www.dhs.gov/us-visit