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Homeland Security

Learn About Biometric Identification (US-VISIT)

What You Need To Know

DHS stops thousands of people who were ineligible from entering the United States with its biometrics program. The result is that identity fraud is prevented and criminals and immigration violators are denied from crossing our borders.

Biometrics refers to measureable characteristics, such as finger prints, that can be used for automated recognition. The DHS program, called United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT), uses biometric information to track international visitors to the United States. US-VISIT also supports the Department of Homeland Security's mission by providing biometric identification services to federal, state and local governments. US-VISIT currently applies to all visitors (with limited exemptions) entering the United States.

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Biometrics collected by US-VISIT and linked to specific biographic information enable a person's identity to be established, then verified, by the U.S. government. With each encounter, from applying for a visa to seeking immigration benefits to entering the United States, US-VISIT:

  • Checks a person's biometrics against a watch list of known or suspected terrorists, criminals and immigration violators
  • Checks against the entire database of all of the fingerprints the Department of Homeland Security has collected since US-VISIT began to determine if a person is using an alias and attempting to use fraudulent identification.
  • Checks a person’s biometrics against those associated with the identification document presented to ensure that the document belongs to the person presenting it and not someone else.

US-VISIT also supports the Department's ability to identify international travelers who have remained in the United States beyond their period of admission by analyzing biographical information.

Every day, 30,000 authorized federal, state and local government users query US-VISIT's data in order to accurately identify people and determine whether they pose a risk to the United States

Results of the checks from US-VISIT are provided to decision makers when and where they need it.



The United States is not alone in using biometrics to enhance security and facilitate legitimate travel. The United Kingdom, Australia, the European Union, Japan, Canada, Mexico and others are implementing biometric identification programs to expedite travel and improve border security.

DHS is working with these countries to share best practices and move toward a consistent approach that provides for secure global travel. As countries continue developing compatible biometric systems, we will be able to more accurately identify dangerous people, making the world a place in which legitimate international travel will be convenient, predictable and secure, but difficult, unpredictable and intimidating for those who want to do us harm.

Last Published Date: July 24, 2012
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