Law Offices of Stuart J. Reich, PLLC

Practice Limited to Immigration & Nationality Law

11 Broadway, Suite 615
New York, NY 10004

(212) 430-6582 phone
(212) 430-6583 facsimile

U.S.-VISIT Entry/Exit System

Q: What is IDENT/U.S.-VISIT?

A: The United States Visitor and Immigration Status Indicator Technology program (“U.S.-VISIT”) was the original name of a program and eponymously-named system for registering the arrival in the U.S. - and departure from the U.S. - of all foreign nationals between 14 and 79 years of age traveling on nonimmigrant visas (with a few limited exceptions). The system used biometric identifiers – fingerprints, combined with digital photographs – to record entries and exits as well as to compare information against watch lists and records of legally-issued documentation.

The US-VISIT system was first introduced in January of 2004 and had progressively been installed at more major entry/exit points, with the goal of eventually being in force at all points of entry and exit from the U.S. By October of 2004, all visa-issuing posts were capturing biometric information for the system at the time nonimmigrant visa stamps were issued.

In 2013, the Office of Biometric Identity Management (“OBIM”) was created, taking the place of US-VISIT program. The US-VISIT system was renamed the Automated Biometric Identification System (“IDENT”)

The intention of the system is to be able to keep track of all foreign nationals entering and exiting the U.S. so as to ensure that the U.S. government knows who is here at any given time, while decreasing fraud. The system tries to do this through the use of biometric information (person-specific biological identifiers). The idea is to accomplish this goal in part by comparing the biometric identifiers of the person seeking entry to those captured when the Visa Stamp was applied for abroad.

Q: How is IDENT entry and exit registration carried out?

A: During the standard interview by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent upon entry, the agent instructs the foreign national to place fingers (in some cases just left and right index finger and in some cases all ten fingers) on a scanner for a digital fingerprint scan and activates a digital camera to photograph the foreign national.

With regard to exiting, the Department of Homeland Security is has begun implementation of a facial recognition system for departures by air as of early 2018.

Q: What are my responsibilities under the IDENT system?

A: Simply, to register using the above procedures at any entry or exit point where the system is set up and in effect.

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The above is presented for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship with our firm. The information provided should not be used as guidance in pursuing an immigration matter absent consultation with a qualified immigration attorney.