U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced the expansion of biometric facial comparison technology to the pedestrian border crossings at Houlton, Jackman, and Calais, ME as part of CBP’s land border innovation efforts.
“I am pleased to announce the deployment of the Simplified Arrival technology to the Houlton, Jackman, and Calais Ports of Entry,” said Boston Director of Field Operations Jennifer De La O. “This enhanced biometric facial comparison technology will further secure and streamline travel while providing a safe, touchless identification process for travelers.”
Simplified Arrival is an enhanced international arrival process that uses facial biometrics to automate the manual document checks that are already required for admission into the United States. This process provides travelers with a secure, touchless travel experience while fulfilling a longstanding Congressional mandate to verify the entry and exit of non-U.S. citizens.
The biometric facial comparison process occurs only at a time and place where travelers are already required by law to verify their identity by presenting a travel document. When a traveler arrives at one of the pedestrian lanes or undergoes I-94 processing, they will pause for a photo at the primary inspection point. A CBP officer will review and query the travel document to retrieve the traveler’s passport or visa photo from government holdings and compare it to the new photo.
This enhanced process using facial biometrics only takes a few seconds and is more than 98 percent accurate. In addition, foreign travelers who have traveled to the United States previously may no longer need to provide fingerprints, as their identity will be confirmed through the touchless facial biometric process.
CBP is committed to its privacy obligations and has taken steps to safeguard the privacy of all travelers. CBP has employed strong technical security safeguards and has limited the amount of personally identifiable information used in the facial biometric process. New photos of U.S. citizens will be deleted within 12 hours. Photos of most non-citizens will be stored in a secure U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) database.
U.S. travelers and select non-citizens who are not required to provide biometrics and wish to opt-out of the new facial biometric process may notify a CBP officer as they approach the primary inspection point and request a manual inspection. These travelers will be required to present a valid travel document for inspection by a CBP officer and be processed consistent with long-established processes for admission into the United States.
Simplified Arrival pairs one of the industry’s highest-ranked facial comparison algorithms (as assessed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology) with trained CBP officers who are skilled at verifying the authenticity of travel documents. If a traveler cannot be matched to a photo on record using the Simplified Arrival process, the traveler will proceed through the traditional inspection process consistent with existing requirements for admission into the United States.
To date, more than 113 million travelers have participated in the biometric facial comparison process at air, land, and seaports of entry. Since September 2018, CBP has leveraged facial biometrics to prevent more than 1,050 impostors from illegally entering the United States by using genuine travel documents issued to other people.
More information about CBP’s efforts to secure and streamline travel through facial biometrics can be found here.