On January 5, 2004, the Department of Homeland Security published an interim rule and a public notice to begin implementation of the US-VISIT entry-exit system. The first phase of the program focuses on capturing “biometric” information (fingerprints and a digital photograph) from certain nonimmigrants upon their entry to the U.S. through a designated air or sea port (entry through land ports is not part of this phase of the U.S. VISIT program).

U.S. VISIT departure requirements (including fingerprints and a scan of the departing nonimmigrant’s visa or passport, done at a departure kiosk) are being tested in this first phase of the program at only one air port of departure, Baltimore, Maryland. The departure procedures in Baltimore will be used regardless of whether or not the nonimmigrant entered the U.S. under U.S. VISIT procedures; entry under the U.S. VISIT procedures does not obligate the entrant to depart through Baltimore. If such a person chooses to depart through Baltimore, they will go through the U.S. VISIT departure procedures, but if he or she chooses to depart through another port of departure, they are not subject to any additional “check-out” requirement. Ports of entry and departure will be designated as U.S. VISIT ports by means of notices published in the Federal Register. The first such notice, published the same day as the interim rule, designates 114 air ports of entry (and a number of sea ports of entry), but only one air port of departure (Baltimore, Maryland).

What “triggers” US-VISIT procedures?

A person will have to comply with U.S. VISIT procedures if:

1. The person is entering the United States as a nonimmigrant pursuant to a nonimmigrant visa;
2. The person is entering the United States through an air or sea port of entry that has been listed as a U.S. VISIT port of entry in the Federal Register; and
3. The person is not otherwise exempt from the U.S. VISIT requirements (see below)

1. The person is exiting the United States in nonimmigrant status, and entered the U.S. on the basis of a nonimmigrant visa;
2. The person is exiting the United States through an air or sea port of entry that has been listed as a U.S. VISIT port of departure in the Federal Register (currently only Baltimore, Maryland has been listed as a U.S. VISIT port of departure); and
3. The person is not otherwise exempt from the U.S. VISIT requirements (see below)

What is required

On arrival at air and sea ports of entry, inspectors will scan two fingerprints of the nonimmigrant with an inkless device and will take a digital photograph of the person. This information, as well as other information that the person provides, will then be used to assist the border inspector in determining whether or not to admit the traveler. Upon exit from the United States at designated air and sea ports (currently only Baltimore, Maryland), the nonimmigrant traveler will go to a work station or kiosk to scan his travel documents, have his photograph compared, and to provide his fingerprints on the same type of inkless device that is used at entry.


This first phase of U.S. VISIT does not apply to the following classes of nonimmigrants:

1. Aliens admitted on a A-1, A-2, C-3 (except for attendants, servants or personal employees of accredited officials), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, NATO-5, or NATO-6 visas, unless the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security jointly determine that a class of such aliens should be subject to the Notice;
2. Children under the age of 14;
3. Persons over the age of 79;
4. Classes of aliens the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State jointly determine shall be exempt;
5. An individual alien the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State or the Director of Central Intelligence determines shall be exempt;
6. Nonimmigrants entering the U.S. through land ports of entry; or
7. Aliens who enter the U.S. through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

How is U.S. VISIT different from special registration?

The U.S. VISIT program is unlike the special registration program in two important respects. First, the trigger of who is subject to U.S. VISIT is simply which port of entry a nonimmigrant enters or exits through. The triggers for special registration, on the other hand, are related to an individual´s country of nationality or specific national security concerns pertaining to the individual, not which port he or she enters through. Second, nonimmigrants subject to U.S. VISIT at the time of entry are not required to comply with U.S. VISIT departure rules, unless they voluntarily decide to depart through Baltimore, Maryland (a pilot port of departure for U.S. VISIT at this time). Special registrants, on the other hand, must depart only through designated ports of departure, and check out with an immigration officer at the airport on the day of the departing flight. AMDOC#: 200401001