01 December 2003
U.S. Suspends Re-Registration Requirement for Visitors to U.S.
New program replacing NSEERS to be implemented by end of 2003
The Department of Homeland Security has announced that it will suspend the formal requirement that visitors to the United States re-register in the National Security Entry/Exit Registration System.
A press release from the Department of Homeland Security December 1 said a new system to be implemented by the end of the year will collect information and biometric identifiers from most visitors to the U.S., and record their departure.
"The Department has determined that US-VISIT and other new processes being implemented will meet the national security needs that NSEERS previously fulfilled," the press release said.
Following is the text of the press release:
NSEERS 30-DAY AND ANNUAL INTERVIEW REQUIREMENTS TO BE SUSPENDED
The Department of Homeland Security today announced that it will suspend the formal requirement for individuals previously registered in the National Security Entry/Exit Registration System (NSEERS) to re-register after 30-days and one year of continuous presence in the United States. The interim rule outlining the new procedures will take effect immediately with publication in the Federal Register, and allows for a 60-day public comment period.
This decision to suspend the requirement was made after careful review of the NSEERS program by DHS. Although the program has proven valuable, the Department of Justice, which originally established NSEERS, always intended the program to be an initial step towards a full entry-exit system. DHS is preparing to institute a new program, US-VISIT, at the end of this year that when fully implemented, will collect information and biometric identifiers from most visitors to the U.S., and record their departure. The Department has determined that US-VISIT and other new processes being implemented will meet the national security needs that NSEERS previously fulfilled.
"Today's announcement that the domestic NSEERS interview requirement will be phased out is another important step forward by the Department of Homeland Security to maintain the integrity and security of our nation's immigration systems," said Asa Hutchinson, Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security in the Department of Homeland Security. "This change will allow us to focus our efforts on the implementation of US-VISIT while preserving our ability to interview some visitors when necessary."
Although certain visitors may still be registered at their time of arrival at U.S. ports-of-entry, there will no longer be a mandatory requirement for all persons registered to report for interviews as was previously required, once the new policy is fully implemented.
NSEERS registration and departure procedures have been successful in meeting national security needs. More than 13,800 persons with suspected immigration status violations have been identified and referred to immigration courts for hearings, and several individuals with possible terrorist links have been denied entry into the U.S. DHS will continue to have the ability to require certain individuals to register in the future when continued monitoring is considered necessary for national security reasons.
The Department of Homeland Security's US-VISIT Program will serve to protect the United States and its territories from threats to national security. This program will provide the capability to record the entry and exit of visitors into and out of the United States, and provide officials with information about persons who are in the United States in violation of the terms of their admission to the United States.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)