Client Alert: U.S. Permanent Resident Travelers Are Now Required to Provide Digital Fingerprints at Each Entry

January 23, 2009

This week the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) put into effect a final rule that broadly expands the United States and Immigration Status Indicator Technology Program (“US-VISIT”) to include U.S. Permanent Resident travelers. Previously, the US-VISIT regulations applied only to those entering the U.S. on non-immigrant (temporary) visas and individuals traveling without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program, with some limited exceptions.

The DHS now requires U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs or “green card” holders) to provide biometrics each time they enter at U.S. air, sea, or land ports of entry. Permanent Residents will be required to submit digital fingerprint scans, photographs, or other biometric information procedures. Immigration officials will then cross-reference these biometric measurements against immigration, intelligence and law enforcement databases and watch lists. Permanent Residents with arrest records should expect that such information will be accessed by the DHS at the port of entry. We recommend seeking advice from immigration counsel prior to any travel abroad for any LPRs with an arrest record.

U.S. Permanent Residents should be prepared to comply with these biometric procedures when entering through U.S. air, sea, and land ports of entry. U.S. Permanent Residents will continue to be processed through the “United States Citizen/LPR” inspection lanes at U.S air and sea ports of entry.

Individuals exempt from US-VISIT regulations include, but are not limited to, U.S. citizens, Canadian citizens entering the U.S. for business or pleasure or transiting through the U.S., and non-immigrant and Permanent Resident alien travelers under age 14 or over age 79.