State, DHS seek more time on biometric entry

The Homeland Security and State departments have asked Congress to extend an October deadline for economically developed countries to provide biometric passports to citizens travelling to the United States.

The extension will affect DHS' work on the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator system.
The Bush administration wants Congress to extend by two years the biometric passport deadline for travelers from the 27 countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program. The countries are experiencing technical difficulties producing the travel documents, according to an administration statement.

The U.S. government is having similar problems providing biometric passports by a December 2005 deadline, according to the State announcement. Not all the countries are expected to miss the deadline, however.

DHS Customs and Border Protection bureau officers now use U.S. Visit to process only travelers bearing visas. State said the new requirement to fingerprint and photograph visa waiver travelers at the border would ease security concerns that arise if the biometric passport deadline is delayed.

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