DHS Proposes Rule to Expand Biometrics Collection

November 24, 2020 Sara Herbek

This article was originally published in November 2020 and was updated on May 10, 2021 to reflect new information from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

May 2021 Update

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has withdrawn a proposed rule that would have authorized several federal agencies within DHS, including  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ,U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to expand biometrics collection for certain travelers entering or exiting the country. The rule was originally published in the Federal Register in September 2020.

The decision to withdraw the rule is in accordance with Executive Order 14012, “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans,” and additional administration priorities to reduce barriers and undue burdens in the immigration system. DHS is also withdrawing the proposed rule in response to feedback received during a 30-day public comment period.

DHS will continue to require submission of biometrics where appropriate. Envoy Global and Global Immigration Associates (GIA) will provide additional updates to the agency’s biometrics requirements as needed.


Key Points

  • DHS has proposed a rule to expand biometrics collection for non-U.S. citizen travelers
  • The proposed rule subjects more individuals to biometrics collection
  • Biometrics collection will expand to more seaports and airports
  • Photographs and facial recognition technology will be added to the biometrics system
  • A public comment period will remain open through December 21, 2020

Overview

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed a rule authorizing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to expand biometrics collection for certain travelers entering or exiting the country.

What are the Changes?

The proposed rule further expands biometrics collections to non-U.S. citizens at all land, sea, and air borders. Currently, biometrics data collection is limited to 15 seaports and airports through pilot programs.

The proposed rule also expands the type of biometrics data that can be collected. The new rule will allow CBP to photograph all non-U.S. citizens who are arriving in the U.S. or departing the country. It also permits the use of facial recognition technology.

Who is Affected?

The proposed rule will affect all individuals previously subject to biometrics collection. Additionally, it requires biometrics data from more individuals, including certain groups that were previously exempt from biometrics collections. The proposed rule adds individuals age 14 or under and 79 or older and diplomatic visa holders to the list of people subject to biometrics collection. Both categories were previously exempt. The elimination of the age requirement follows a proposal by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in September 2020 to remove the age limits. 

What Should Employers and Applicants Know?

A public comment period on the proposed rule will remain open through December 21, 2020. Interested parties should submit comments electronically to DHS by December 21.

Looking Ahead

The rule will not take effect until the agency reviews all public comments and issues an implementation date.


Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Sara Herbek, who is the Managing Partner at Global Immigration Associates, P.C. (www.giafirm.com), Envoy’s affiliated law firm.

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.

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