What is a Biometric?
A biometric or biometric identifier is an objective measurement of a physical characteristic of an individual which, when captured in a database, can be used to verify the identity or check against other entries in the database. The best known biometric is the fingerprint, but others include facial recognition and iris scans.
Making Us Safer – International Visitors
The use of these identifiers is an important link in U.S. national security, because fingerprints taken will be compared with similarly collected fingerprints at US ports of entry under the US-VISIT program. This will verify identity to reduce use of stolen and counterfeit visas, and protect against possible use by terrorists or others who might represent a security risk to the U.S. These two important programs (collecting fingerprints for visa issuance and verifying travelers’ fingerprints when they enter the United States) will make travel to the U.S. safer for legitimate travelers, and also improve safety and national security for all Americans.
What This Means - Traveling to the U.S.
For U.S. Visas the chosen biometric identifier method is a digital photo and electronic fingerprints. The two index fingers of a visa applicant are electronically scanned in a quick, inkless process during the consular officer's interview with the applicant. All Embassies and Consulates are now processing fingerprint scans when visa applicants are interviewed for their visa.
Travel without a Visa - Visa Waiver Program - International travelers who hold passports from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries and who seek to travel to the United States without a visa, should carefully review Visa Waiver program information for eligibility. Each traveler from any of the 27 Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries, regardless of age or passport used, must present an individual machine-readable passport (MRP) in order to enter the United States without a visa. Depending on when the passport was issued, other passport requirements apply. Additionally, if travelers do not meet requirements, they will need to apply for a U.S. visa, and cannot travel on VWP. See Visa Waiver Program for complete details.
Admission into the U.S.
- Select US-VISIT to learn more about the Department of Homeland Security US-VISIT program at U.S. ports of entry, which verifies the identity of the traveler using the electronic fingerprint data and digital photographs.
Applicant Refusal to be Fingerprinted at Visa Interview
A visa applicant who refuses to be fingerprinted would have his or her visa application denied on the basis that it is incomplete. However, an applicant who then later decided to provide fingerprints would have his or her visa application re-considered without prejudice.
What is happening? The above methods will be applied to all U.S. citizens via driver's licenses so that we need, in essence, a passport to live in our own country.
This is what REAL ID is about.