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Press Release

Biometric Collections to Begin at the American Institute in Taiwan

The American Institute in Taiwan will begin collecting biometric identifiers, or electronic fingerprints, for immigrant visa applicants on Monday, September 13, 2004. This program will be extended to include the fingerprints of nonimmigrant visa applicants on Wednesday, September 15, 2004.

Today AIT held a "hands-on" demonstration for journalists of the new biometric enrollment system. Journalists were briefed on the system by AIT Consular Section Chief Charles Bennett and then invited to try out the new fingerprinting system.

Under the new system, a visa applicant has his or her two index fingers scanned in an inkless, electronic process at the beginning of the visa interview. Collecting the fingerprints should add no more than one minute to the application process and in most cases will take only seconds. The electronic data from the fingerprints will be stored in a database and will be available to Department of Homeland Security immigration officers at ports of entry in the United States.

Biometric visas will facilitate rapid and precise identification of travelers, enabling more secure processing of travelers at ports of entry in the United States.

This program was mandated by the United States Congress in Section 303 of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002. This law requires that, by October 26, 2004, the United States government shall issue to international visitors "only machine-readable, tamper-resistant visas and other travel and entry documents that use biometric identifiers."

This worldwide biometric enrollment program began in September 2003, and all U.S. visa-issuing offices abroad will implement this program by October 26, 2004. Applicants for U.S. visas between the ages of 14 and 80 will be required to be fingerprinted. Nonimmigrant visa appointments should be made through the appointment system at

For Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Biometrics, Click Here.