January 20, 2016 -
U.S. Customs and Border Protection have started piloting facial recognition technology at John F. Kennedy International Airport to match arrving first-time Visa Waiver Program travelers and returning U.S. citizens with ePassports to help match individuals to their passports.
The technology compares an image of the traveler taken during the normal inspection process to the image stored on that traveler’s ePassport.
In a report by FCW, CBP said it is also conducting additional tests to evaluate new biometric technologies in multiple environments in fiscal 2016.
CBP originally tested the biometric technology last year at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia. CBP reports said that the Dulles trials showed the system was adept at matching passports photos with live captured images. The Dulles field test focused on travelers 18 and older who had ePassports but has since been expanded to include similarly aged first-time travelers from Visa Waiver Program countries.
The U.S Visa Waiver Program currently uses fingerprints to enroll and verify travelers’ identity and allows eligible citizens from 38 designated countries to travel to the U.S. and stay for 90 days for tourism or business purposes without getting a visa. Lawmakers have called for more biometric identification capabilities to be added to the program to better help verify identities of program participants.