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CBP Testing New Technology to Collect Biometric Data from Departing Foreign Nationals

Dilip Patel


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has begun testing a mobile device to collect biometric data from a limited number of foreign national air travelers departing the United States. Officers will compare biometrics collected via the handheld device to the biometrics collected when the traveler entered the United States. The testing will begin at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and will be expand this fall to Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York, San Francisco, and Washington-Dulles. The project is expected to run through June 2016. After this period, CBP will use the results to determine its future plans for biometric exit.

During testing, CBP officers will be stationed at the passenger-loading bridge of selected flights departing the United States with a handheld biometric device. CBP officers will scan selected foreign national air travelers’ fingerprints and passports using the device. The traveler’s data will be matched to their entry data and then stored in data systems managed by DHS. Only non-U.S. citizens will be included in the testing.

The CBP’s entry/exit strategy is designed around three goals: “identify and close the biographic gaps and enhance the entry-exit system; perform targeted biometric operations; and transform the entry/exit process through the use of emerging biometric technologies.”

DHS to Implement Additional Security Measures to Visa Waiver Program

DHS will be introducing a number of additional or revised security criteria for all participants in the Visa Waiver Program. These criteria will apply to both new and current members of the program:

ESTA travelers are encouraged to make sure that their visa waiver passports are compliant.

Green Cards with “Signature Waived” are Acceptable for I-9 Purposes

USCIS has clarified that permanent resident cards that say “signature waived” are acceptable documents for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, as long as they are unexpired and reasonably appear to be genuine and relate to the person presenting them. Since February 2015, USCIS has been waiving the signature requirement for foreign nationals entering the United States for the first time as lawful permanent residents after obtaining an immigrant visa abroad.

NVC Corrects Erroneous Letters Indicating Possible Termination of Immigrant Visa Applications

In July, some visa applicants received e-mails from the National Visa Center (NVC) indicating that proceedings to terminate their immigrant visa application would commence, or that the application was being terminated for failure to contact the NVC within one year of notification of the availability of a visa, even when the individual or the attorney contacted the NVC within the one-year period. The NVC has since advised that is correcting the issue and is sending affected applicants a follow-up e-mail to let them know that their case is still in process, and that they should disregard the e-mail previously received. Further clarification on the best process for reopening an erroneously terminated application is expected. A similar issue arose last year.

Certain DACA Recipients with Three-year EADS Must Return Them to USCIS

In response to the injunction challenging President Obama’s executive action on immigration (Texas v. United States), USCIS is taking extreme measures to retrieve three-year employment authorization documents (EADs) issued to DACA recipients in violation of the court’s order even though the recall only applies to recipients who received the card after February 16, 2015. Such steps included making home visits to obtain the cards. There are more than 100,000 other DACA recipients with valid three-year EADs who do not need to return them.

As of Aug. 5, 2015, USCIS has accounted for more than 99 percent of the about 2,600 identified invalid work permits requiring return. USCIS sent multiple letters to such recipients warning them that they must return the EAD by July 17, 2015. Failure to return the invalid EAD without good cause, USCIS warned, may affect the recipient’s deferred action and employment authorization. Indeed, USCIS reports that 22 recipients failed to respond to the recall, and their DACA has been terminated.

Meanwhile, the DHS Inspector General found no evidence that USCIS deliberately violated the court’s injunction when it issued the three-year EADs after the court enjoined the November 2014 executive actions on immigration.

Dilip Patel of Shutts & Bowen LLP, a Florida Bar board-certified expert on immigration law, can be reached at (813) 227-8178 or e-mail dpatel@shutts.com

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