The United States is a nation where diversity is celebrated and people from all over the world are welcome. Since 2004, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM), formerly US-VISIT, program has collected biometrics—digital fingerprints and photographs—to protect against identity theft and fraud. Unlike names and dates of birth, which can be changed, biometrics are unique and virtually impossible to forge.
Biometric procedures apply to international visitors holding a non-U.S. passport or visa.
Travel Procedures and Biometrics
This video will help you understand OBIM, the layer of security that uses biometrics, such as digital fingerprints, to establish and verify international travelers' identities.
US-VISIT Step-by-Step Entry Guide (PDF, 1 page – 311 KB)
When applying for a visa
If you need a visa, you must go to your closest U.S. visa-issuing post for an interview as part of the application process. During this interview, you can expect a Department of State consular officer to:
- Review your visa application and supporting documents
- Collect your biometrics (up to 10 digital fingerprints and a digital photograph)
When you are en route by air and sea
Airline or ship representatives will give you a white Form I-94 (if you are a visa holder) or green Form I-94W (if you are a Visa Waiver Program traveler) to fill out before you arrive in the United States. Land border travelers will receive their Form I-94 upon arrival at a port of entry.
When you arrive in the United States
By air and sea:
A Customs and Border Protection officer will guide you through the inspection process. Have your travel documents ready, such as your passport and Form I-94 or Form I-94W.
The officer will review your travel documents and ask you questions, such as why you are visiting and how long you will stay.
The officer will scan your fingerprints and take your photograph with a digital camera.
The officer will tell you when you have completed the process.
You will experience OBIM biometric procedures, as described above, at the port's secondary inspection area.
- Mexican citizens: (PDF, 1 page – 703 KB) Learn more about biometric entry procedures at the U.S.-Mexico border.
- Canadian citizens: (PDF, 1 page – 251 KB) Learn more about biometric entry procedures at the U.S.-Canada border.
When you leave the country, you should return your Form I-94 or Form I-94W to an airline or ship representative. By returning your form, you have completed the U.S. exit process.
On July 2, 2009, the Department completed a test of biometric exit procedures at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. At this time, you are no longer required to provide biometrics when you depart the United States from either of these two airports. You are required to follow the existing departure process by submitting your Form I-94 or I-94W to an airline or ship representative.
At a date to be announced in the future, all travelers who provide biometrics when entering the United States will be required to provide biometrics when departing the United States. Learn more