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Tuesday, December 7, 2021
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CBP Deploying Electronic Visa Update System

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is readying to deploy a new web-based Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS) developed this year to collect updated information from certain aliens who hold extended-length visas before the alien travels to the United States, by requiring enrollment in EVUS and periodic updates to biographic and other information in an effort to increase the opportunities to identify individuals who may pose a threat or who are otherwise inadmissible to the United States.

The EVUS enrollment system will be used to collect information from nonimmigrant aliens who hold a passport that was issued by an identified country approved for inclusion in the EVUS program and, have been issued a US nonimmigrant visa of a designated category.

CBP said EVUS is similar to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) program, which collects updated information in advance of an individual’s travel to the United States.

EVUS also enables the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to collect updated information from designated travelers during the interim period between visa applications.

CBP published a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) “because EVUS is a new system that will collect and use personally identifiable information from individuals who meet the EVUS programmatic criteria, as well as information from US citizens identified on the EVUS enrollment request.”

According to the PIA, “When a nonimmigrant alien applies for a visa to travel to the United States, the visa’s validity period can vary considerably depending on which country issued the enrollee’s passport. The variation in visa validity periods raises security concerns due to the infrequency in which visa holders may be screened or vetted for threats or inadmissibility. For example, some visas remain valid for up to ten years, without any follow-up or recurrent screening and vetting of visa holders.”

The PIA said, “Although the US government collects biographic and other pertinent information during the visa application process, there is no mechanism for receiving updated information during the lifespan of a visa. Therefore, in the case of a longer term visa, substantial periods of time may pass without the US government receiving updated information regarding visa holders, including repeat visitors who travel to the United States multiple times over the life-span of a visa. Implementing EVUS will facilitate greater security as it will allow the United States to receive updated traveler information over the life-span of a visa, instead of only during the visa application process."

The requirements of EVUS are outlined in the forthcoming EVUS Final Rule, which DHS said it expects to publish in the Federal Register later this year.

EVUS enrollees must comply with the following requirements:

  • Submit all information requested on the EVUS enrollment;
  • Attest that the information submitted is accurate; and
  • Pay the subscriber fee.

According to the PIA, “Enrollees must complete EVUS enrollment before departing for the United States (air and sea travel) or arriving in the United States (land travel). The traveler should enroll at least 72 hours prior to boarding an aircraft or vessel carrier destined for the United States, or before applying for admission at a land border port of entry. However, the traveler may enroll any time prior to boarding an aircraft or vessel carrier destined for the United States, or in the event of land travel, prior to application for admission at a US land border port of entry.”

EVUS enrollment may be completed by an alien directly or by a third party such as a friend, relative or travel industry professional (when required). After the enrollment information is submitted, the potential enrollee will receive an electronic status message on the EVUS enrollment website stating “enrolled,” “pending,” “unsuccessful” or “The State Department has revoked your visa.”

CBP said it anticipates each EVUS enrollment attempt will be adjudicated within 72 hours of submission, although most results will be received shortly after submission. An “enrolled” message indicates that the submission was successful and that the covered alien has a valid notification of compliance.  

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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