U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has begun testing a mobile device to collect biometric data from a limited number of foreign national air travelers departing the United States. Officers will compare biometrics collected via the handheld device to the biometrics collected when the traveler entered the United States.  The testing will begin at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and will be expand this fall to Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York, San Francisco, and Washington-Dulles. The project is expected to run through June 2016. After this period, CBP will use the results to determine its future plans for biometric exit.

During testing, CBP officers will be stationed at the passenger-loading bridge of selected flights departing the United States with a handheld biometric device. CBP officers will scan selected foreign national air travelers’ fingerprints and passports using the device. The traveler’s data will be matched to their entry data and then stored in data systems managed by DHS.  Only non-U.S. citizens will be included in the testing.

Several federal statutes mandate DHS to biometrically record the entry and departure of foreign visitors.  The CBP’s entry/exit strategy is designed around three goals: “identify and close the biographic gaps and enhance the entry-exit system; perform targeted biometric operations; and transform the entry/exit process through the use of emerging biometric technologies.”