US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has recently announced that they are planning to deploy a new web-based Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS) that will be used to collect updated information from nationals of China holding a 10-year B1/B2, B1 or B2 (visitor) visa before traveling to United States. Affective November 29, 2016, all Chinese travelers carrying maximum validity (10-year) B1/B2, B1, and B2 visas in passports issued by the People’s Republic of China must be properly enrolled in the EVUS program in order to enter the U.S. in any way. Early enrollment in the program will be accepted on a voluntary basis in mid-October before the said mandatory enrollment date.
EVUS, which is similar to the already implemented Electronic System for Travel Authorization, is an electronic effort by the CBP to strengthen the identification of individuals who may pose a threat, or who may otherwise be inadmissible to the United States.
Currently, the United States government collects biographic and other pertinent information only during the visa application process. There is no mechanism presently available for receiving updates, which raises security concerns in the cases where visas may be valid for a number of years. Developing and introducing EVUS will assist the United States to obtain updated visa-holder information from Chinese travelers during the life-cycle of a designated Visa, rather than having to rely solely on data collected during the visa application process.
The Department of Homeland Security proposes that EVUS enrollment may be completed by a foreign national directly, or by a third party such as a friend, relative or travel industry professional and the fee to enroll is $8 (53 RMB). As of now, there’s nothing Chinese travelers have to do other than go online and update their information in order to comply with the EVUS requirements. Following registration with EVUS, and evaluation by Customs and Border Protection Personnel, the visa-holder will receive a message on the EVUS website either stating that the applicant is “enrolled” in the EVUS Program indicating the submission was successful and that the covered foreign national has a valid notification of compliance, the application is “pending” or “unsuccessful”, or “The State Department has revoked the visa”.
To address privacy concerns, the CBP has published a Privacy Impact Assessment to review how information will be collected, stored and released. The Privacy Impact Assessment also outlines the enrollment process for visa holders including:
- Completing enrollment in EVUS, submitting all information required, a recommended minimum of seventy-two hours before departing for the United States by air or sea travel, or arriving in the United States by land;
- Attesting all information submitted is accurate;
- Paying all required fees;
Travelers holding a valid 10-year B1/B2, B1 or B2 visa issued before November 29, 2016 will have to enroll in EVUS and update their information accordingly in order to use their visas after the launch of the program and those who receive their 10-year B1/B2, B1 or B2 visas from November 29, 2016 onwards will have to enroll before embarking on their initial trip to the U.S. For all applicants, enrollment will remain valid for two years or until the their visa or passport expires. Upon expiration, visa holders will then be required to go back online and update their information again before their next trip to the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security advises that a final determination about the EVUS Program will be published in the Federal Register later this year.
For detailed information on the EVUS Program, including a review of information to be collected from each applicant, please refer to CBP’s website.