Facial biometric tech to bolster US preclearance at LPIA

Facial biometric tech to bolster US preclearance at LPIA
Lynden Pindling International Airport (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Starting tomorrow, December 9, 2020, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) preclearance operations at Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) in Nassau will introduce Simplified Arrival, the US Embassy in Nassau announced yesterday.

“Simplified Arrival uses facial comparison technology to make inspection easier and faster for travelers, and more secure and efficient for CBP officers and everyone involved in the process,” the embassy explained in a statement.

“Simplified Arrival also has public health benefits; by reducing the need to capture fingerprints or handle documents, the new technology helps limit the spread of disease and infection.

“When arriving at or departing from LPIA in Nassau, as well as other select airports during international travel, passengers will pause for a photo at the CBP primary inspection area or their departure gate.

“In a matter of seconds, CBP’s biometric facial comparison service will automatically compare the new photo of the traveler to images that the traveler has already provided to the government, such as passport and visa photos. A CBP officer then interviews the traveler to validate results, establish the purpose and intent of travel and determine admissibility to the United States.

“Eligible travelers who wish to opt out of the process may notify a CBP officer as they approach the primary inspection point. These travelers will present their valid travel documents for manual identity verification by a CBP officer in accordance with existing requirements for entry into the United States.”

The embassy stressed that CBP is committed to privacy and has “limited the amount of personally identifiable information used in the facial biometric process” and “taken steps to safeguard the privacy of all travelers”.

“…CBP uses facial comparison technology simply to automate the document checks that are already required at all US ports of entry, and only at specific times and locations where travelers are already required to present proof of identity,” the statement noted. “New photos of US citizens will be deleted within 12 hours, and photos of foreign nationals will be stored in a secure DHS system.

“Facial comparison technology enhances CBP’s ability to facilitate lawful travel and secure the border and expand on the benefits of CBP preclearance through LPIA. This process provides travelers with a touchless process that further secures and streamlines international arrivals while providing CBP officers time to focus on travelers’ intent instead of administrative tasks.”

The embassy highlighted, however, that preclearance requirements for travelers have not changed.

“Preclearance travelers must still fulfill the requirements listed at https://bs.usembassy.gov/preclearance at the discretion of the individual CBP officer reviewing their application for admission to the United States,” it noted.

“We kindly remind all passengers that CBP officers evaluate every application for admission to the United States on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with existing laws and regulations. In other words, each person’s travel situation is unique, and is evaluated as such.”

The embassy also encouraged travelers to only get information from trusted, verified sources.

More information on the new equipment can be found at https://biometrics.cbp.gov.