Customs to conduct biometric exit pilot at 10 U.S. airports

July 30, 2015 - 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced it will conduct the BE-Mobile Air Test in which it will collect biometric and biographic data from certain foreign travellers who are departing the United States on selected flights from up to ten identified U.S. airports.

The test is designed to improve the integrity of the immigration system and the ability to accurately detect travelers that have overstayed their allotted duration in the United States.

Currently, those looking to travel to the United States may be required to provide fingerprint and photographic biometric data at ports of entry, including at the ten identified airports.

The CBP uses this data to verify the identities of foreign travellers. Meanwhile, certain aliens are exempt from this requirement, including individuals traveling on A or G visas and others.

The BE-Mobile Air Test will be conducted at up to 10 airports on pre-selected outbound international flights, which will be either determined on a random basis or chosen to correspond with existing outbound enforcement operations.

For the selected flight, CBP officers will be on hand at the departure gate near the departing passenger loading bridge where they will collect data from certain travelers.

At the start of their departure process, CBP officers will review the departing traveler’s travel document (passport, visa, lawful permanent resident card, or other qualifying travel document) to determine if the traveler is an alien who is required to submit biometric data at the time of departure.

If the individual is identified as an alien, the CBP officers will obtain biographic data from the individual by swiping or entering the data from the alien’s travel document on a handheld biometric device.

The biographic data collected during this test will be used to create a biographic-based departure record in a CBP biographic database, which will then be paired with the collected biometric data to create a complete, biometrically-based departure record for that person.

Additionally, the CBP officer will capture two of the passengers fingerprints and match them against their biometric identity record.

Based on the verification results and additional law enforcement data, the officer may then perform additional analysis or interview the alien to determine if any additional action is required.

Once the departure inspection is completed, the results will be recorded in a DHS biometric database and a CBP biographic database in real time.

CBP will analyze and evaluate the test’s performance based on a number of criteria, including the occurrence of watchlist matches based on biometric data, the occurrence of biometric-identified fraud, the occurrence of inaccurate APIS manifests, how overstay calculations are impacted, the transaction times for exit processing per traveler, the rate of successful transactions, the occurrence of law enforcement hits, including those requiring referral to secondary inspection, the observations from the CBP officers performing the test, and system performance.

Based on the results of the BE-Mobile Air Test, CBP will be able to determine what strategic programmatic requirements are necessary in order to create a comprehensive biometric exit solution.

The test, which is expected to begin soon, will run for a one-year period at up to 10 airports, including Los Angeles International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Miami International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and Washington Dulles International Airport.

CBP said it will ensure that it adheres to all Privacy Act requirements and applicable policies during the implementation of this test, as well as will be issuing a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) outlining how it will ensure compliance with Privacy Act protections.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.