DHS issues call for biometric exit solutions
22 June 2016 16:12 GMT

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a long-awaited request for information on a Biometric Exit Programme.

The RFI, issued by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), explains that CBP intends to add biometrics to confirm when foreign nationals are departing the United States.

“An effective immigration system requires an end-to-end process that collects exit data and matches that to entry data.  Without exit data, there is no meaningful way to determine whether foreign nationals have overstayed their periods of admission”, write the RFI.

In the request, the CBP writes that it intends to add biometric confirmation for foreign nationals in all air and sea international departures, noting that federal legislation mandates that DHS deploy a biometric exit program.

“The goal of a biometric exit program is to ensure that a traveler could not depart as an imposter (i.e., use someone else’s travel documents/identity when departing) or have someone depart on his or her behalf (i.e., someone else uses the supposed traveler’s documents).  Biometrics offer a greater degree of assurance that the individual departing the United States is who he or she claims to be”. 

In the RFI, the CBP reports how its has deployed biometric entry/exit pilots in the last year to understand how biometrics can be integrated into current operations at air and land ports.

These include 1-to-1 Face Comparison, Pedestrian Entry/Exit, an Air Exit Experiment and Biometric Exit Mobile, using modalities such as fingerprint and 2D face recognition.

“CBP has worked closely with the DHS Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate through the Air Entry-Exit Reengineering (AEER) program to analyze, develop, test, and evaluate integrated approaches to biometrically confirm the departure of in-scope foreign nationals at airports.”

In terms of the purpose of the RFI, CBP confirms that it is seeking information from industry on how to best acquire the Biometric Exit solutions. All responses shall be submitted no later than 12 pm EDT on July 1, 2016.

Organisations have welcomed the RFI.

"It's a very helpful RFI," commented Michael Dougherty, CEO of the Secure Identity & Biometrics Association. "In short order it explains the background for Biometric Exit, outlines the experiments that CBP has made using different biometric modalities at the air, land and sea ports, clearly discusses the goals and objectives of the Program, and then encourages vendors to explain how they can help CBP satisfy its challenges while minimizing risk and life cycle costs."

"In turn, DHS will see a significant response to the RFI from industry," said Dougherty. "Companies have made great technological strides in their ability to capture and match biometrics at speed to manage and ease travel, and to do so affordably. Their inputs, which are due on July 1, will be important to DHS as it creates the statement of work for its eventual request for proposals."