Biometric facial comparison technology introduced at all US airports

The new system would streamline international arrivals by using facial biometrics to automate the manual document checks

If you or your relatives are planning to fly into any of the international airports across the US, it may help to know that you may be required to go through biometric fascial comparisons.

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has completed the expansion of biometric facial comparison technology at all international airports across the United States.

According to CBP the step would further secure and streamline international travel. Currently, at select departure locations biometric entry/exit program already exists.

Read: US to collect more biometric data from immigrants (September 3, 2020)

This new step at the international arrival process works by using facial biometrics to automate the manual document checks that are already required for admission into the US. This process provides travelers with a more contactless travel experience.

It may be noted that it was also a longstanding Congressional mandate to biometrically record the entry and exit of non-US citizens.

In addition, foreign travelers who have traveled to the United States previously may no longer need to provide fingerprints, as their identity will be confirmed through the touchless facial biometric process.

Diane J. Sabatino, Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations, CBP says, “The use of facial biometrics for identity verification brings travelers one step closer to a truly touchless process that is secure and streamlines travel while protecting their privacy.”

CBP and its stakeholder partners have been expanding the use of facial biometrics through public/partnerships to further secure and streamline travel well before the Covid-19 pandemic to meet the biometric exit mandate while supporting air travel modernization efforts.

Given the need for safe and touchless processes in air travel, CBP expedited the expansion of Simplified Arrival which became even more critical during the pandemic.

The biometric facial comparison process occurs only at a time and place where travelers are already required by law to verify their identity by presenting a travel document.

When a traveler arrives at an international airport, he or she will pause for a photo at the primary inspection point. A CBP officer will review and query the travel document, which will retrieve the traveler’s passport or visa photo from government holdings and compare it to the new photo.

This enhanced process using facial biometrics only takes a few seconds and is more than 98% accurate.

CBP has employed strong technical security safeguards and has limited the amount of personally identifiable information used in the facial biometric process.

New photos of US citizens will be deleted within 12 hours. Photos of most foreign nationals will be stored in a secure Department of Homeland Security system.

Read: CBP Completes Simplified Arrival Expansion at All US Airports (June 6, 2022)

US travelers and foreign nationals who are not required to provide biometrics and wish to opt out of the new biometric process can simply notify a CBP officer as they approach the primary inspection point.

These travelers will be required to present a valid travel document for inspection by a CBP officer and will be processed consistent with existing requirements for admission into the United States.

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