Entry to United States Begins to Tighten

In a follow up to last week’s announcement regarding the US Government’s tightening of the Visa Waiver Program, a biometric testing project has been introduced to the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, the major border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico.

The biometric testing, put in place December 10, 2015, will be implemented in two phases, requiring non-United States citizens entering the United States to have their biometric data collected. Beginning in February 2016, biometric data will also be gathered from non-U.S. citizens leaving the country.

The objective of the new testing, according to United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP), is to gather entry and exit information along the land border that will “enhance CBP’s ability to secure the border, address immigration overstays, identify persons of interest, and improve reporting and analysis of international visitors to the U.S.”

The biometric testing program at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry is the first of a number of test sites, with the CBP planning to install new technology in 2016 to “further the CPB’s goal of capturing entry/exit data to secure and facilitate legitimate travel in a way that does not disrupt operations.”

Phases of the New Project

The biometric testing will consist of two phases. The first phase began December 10, and requires certain non-U.S. citizens entering the U.S. to provide a facial and iris images when crossing the border. These photographs will be taken at camera-equipped entry kiosks, which replaced the kiosks that existed before the project.

During the second phase, scheduled to run from February 2016 to June 2016, all travelers exiting the U.S. will be required to provide their travel documents as they do when entering the U.S.

Plans for Additional Technology

In addition to the biometric screening project, CBP plans to initiate further biometric technology testing in FY2016 in order to strengthen its border security. Similar entry/exit testing may be implemented at other border crossing points in the future as well.

For the full details about the entry/exit strategy deployed at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, read the article on the CBP website.

Read more about the planned changes to the Visa Waiver Program, which includes this biometric testing project.