In February of 2011, U.S. President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Harper announced the Beyond the Border Action Plan under which both countries work together to achieve security on our borders while facilitating the lawful movement of people and goods. Last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Canaddian Border Services Agency announced that both agencies would begin the Phase I pilot of the Entry/Exit program, which currently requires temporary foreign visitors to register with USCIS if they stay in the U.S. for more than 30 days.
Under Phase I, routine biographic information from third-country nationals, permanent residents of Canada, and lawful permanent residents of the U.S. will be collected between September 30, 2012 and January 31, 2013. This will occur at the following four ports of entry:
- Lewiston-Queenston Bridge — Lewiston, NY/Ontario;
- Rainbow Bridge — Niagara Falls, NY/Ontario;
- Pacific Highway — Blaine, WA/British Columbia; and
- (Douglas) Peace Arch — Blaine, WA/British Columbia.
Beginning October 15, 2012, both agencies will exchange this information to record entry into one country so that it becomes a record of exit from the other country. The entry/exit system will:
- identify persons who potentially overstay their lawful period of admission;
- monitor the departure of persons subject to removal orders; and
- verify that residency requirements are being met.
The pilot will not affect regular port operations in any way, and the process of sharing personal information will be done in accordance with each country’s privacy laws. This pilot program will not share information regarding Canadian or U.S. citizens.
Currently collected data elements being shared are: first name, last name, middle name, date of birth, nationality, gender, document type, document number, work location code / U.S. port of entry codes, date of entry, time of entry, and document country of issuance. In addition to what Canada and the U.S. currently collect on travelers at ports of entry, the date and time of entry as well as the port through which the traveler entered will also be collected and exchanged.
If you have any questions about entering or exiting the U.S., please contact Berardi Immigration Law so that we can help you cross the border with confidence.