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U.S. to scan fingerprints of visa applicants

Posted by THE GUARDIAN on 2003/10/22 | Views: 2636 |

U.S. to scan fingerprints of visa applicants

THE United States (US) Consulate General will today begin to electronically scan two fingerprints from each non-immigrant visa applicant in the country to reduce visa fraud.

Explaining the reasons behind the new procedure in Lagos yesterday, Ron Kramer, Head of Consular Section said the move "is to have more secured travelling document and make it harder and less attractive for those willing to steal passports".

This method, he however added, exempts those with diplomatic passports or top government officials who have important assignments and already billed to attend such occasions.

According to Kramer, every American Embassy and Consulate throughout the world has already, or will by next year, introduce this procedure.

The one-minute finger-printing process, he noted, is as simple as pressing a door-bell.

According to the official, "an applicant simply presses a finger on the glass-top of a small box", adding that the idea is similar to that of submitting fingerprints to apply for Nigerian drivers licenses or of signing one's name with a fingerprint instead of a signature".

Applicants between the ages of 14 and 79, Kramer explained, "will submit two fingerprints to complete the processing of their application", adding that at some point in the future, applicants "will be required to submit eight fingerprints".

However, he assured that the quick fingerprinting process "will have no input on other procedures of a visa interview as the process aims to help consular officers correctly separate legitimate visa applicants from those who abuse the system".

Fingerprint records, he said, are confidential and for the exclusive use of the U.S. government.

Kramer said those qualified for the drop-box procedure should line up at the consulate general's office at 10 a.m. and not 12 a.m. as before.

Applicants generally qualify for the drop-box if they have a multiple entry U.S. visa that expired less than one year ago.

An application to renew or obtain a non-immigrant visa through the drop-box procedure is not a guarantee that a visa will be issued. But under normal processing, the visa will be available within two working days.

Those eligible to use the drop-box are crew visa, exchange visitors, intra-company transfers, students, temporary employment tourists or business visas and applicants presenting a diplomatic note from an Embassy or an official note from an international organisation for official travel only.

A statement from the Consulate stressed that applicants must appear in person to request a drop-box issuance, but may authorise someone to collect their passport on their behalf upon completion of processing. The representatives should, however, hold a letter of authorisation from the applicant and clear evidence if identity, such as passport, staff identification card, or driver license.

To collect a child's documents, the representative is advised to have a signed letter of authorisation from the child's parent or legal guardian.

All forms are available at: / nigeria/ wwwhconm.html

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