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Stricter Rules for Foreign Visitors to U.S.

October 31, 2003  | 

Many foreign visitors to the United States will soon undergo stricter security measures including being photographed and fingerprinted when entering the country.

The Department of Homeland Security has announced plans for a high-tech system that will help track the millions of foreigners who enter the country with visas each year.

Congress called for the system after discovering that some of the people involved in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in Sept. 2001 had expired visas that had not been followed up on.

This new program will replace the measure that required people from specified countries to register with the United States government while staying in the country.

The first part of the new system to track foreigners entering and exiting the U.S. will be implemented on Jan. 5 at 115 airports and 14 seaports. A digital camera and a small electronic fingerprint machine will collect and log biometric information to be matched against a watch list of suspected terrorists and criminals.

Some worry the new system will cause delays at airports and may hinder tourism, especially since the new exit system, which will require visitors to swipe their passports and provide their fingerprints at a self-service kiosk, will need to be constructed and space and staff allocated for it. The technology for this process is still in development.

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