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US-VISIT: I-94 holders safe – for now

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Truckers and other landed immigrants who hold I-94 waivers won't have to register for the US-VISIT program at land borders until their waivers expire, the program's deputy director...


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Truckers and other landed immigrants who hold I-94 waivers won’t have to register for the US-VISIT program at land borders until their waivers expire, the program’s deputy director Robert Mocny told reporters and Customs officials in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal during a digital teleconference held in December.

But once their waivers do expire, they’ll be expected to comply just like everyone else, said Mocny.

That means getting fingerprinted by U.S. immigration every time they enter or exit the country. A photograph will also be taken upon registration in the program. Hitherto I-94 waivers have allowed landed immigrants multiple entries to the U.S. for work or study purposes within a stated period.

Still, the prospect of increased commercial truck traffic backups due to immigration fingerprint line-ups didn’t phase Mocny.

He pointed out the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program was specifically created to help truckers cross borders more quickly.

“Certainly having a FAST card would help,” he said.

“FAST card holders who are landed immigrants would be exempt for now, although eventually they might be obliged to give their prints at the border as well.”

US-VISIT, an acronym for “United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology,” has already been phased in at airports (115) and seaports (13) throughout the U.S.

The program was slated to be implemented at the 17 busiest land borders (shared with Canada) with an “informed compliance” policy (U.S. Immigration officers may show more leniency in enforcing the new program at their discretion), Jan. 14.

The actual length of the period designated for “informed compliance” has not yet been announced.

“The goal of the program is to enhance the security of U.S. citizens and visitors, and to facilitate legitimate travel and trade so that officers can focus on those who are entering the country to do harm,” said Mocny.

“We certainly don’t want to undermine the trade we do with Canada.”

Mocny said the program will continue to evolve, possibly incorporating biometrics (eye scans, facial recognition, etc.) and allowing for a degree of automation (special kiosks with a mechanism that would allow for automated fingerprint scans to bypass Immigration lines.)

But until then, landed immigrant truck drivers whose I-94 waivers have expired will just have to wait in line.


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