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Changes Expected to Biometric Passport Requirements

June 14, 2005

Changes Expected to Biometric Passport Requirements
June 14, 2005 – The Associated Press has learned that the U.S. is expected to scale back its biometric passport requirements to make it easier for foreign travelers from allied nations to enter the country without a visa. The new standards would be similar to international biometric guidelines already in place.

Originally, a 2002 law required visitors from 27 allied nations that are not required to apply for a U.S. visa to carry high-tech passports virtually impossible to counterfeit.

The changes would come after months of negotiations between the U.S. and its international allies. Visa Waiver Program countries include Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Visiting Brussels last month, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to biometrics as a high-tech approach to security screening "compatible on both sides of the Atlantic."

"Right now, in many ways we are using the most primitive kind of screening – meaning we screen for names that match lists of terrorists and criminals," Chertoff said during that trip. "And of course, names are not the best way to identify people. They’re certainly not as good as biometrics."

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