Biometric passports target of waiver

May 21, 2004 at 11:44 AM

WASHINGTON, May 21 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., wants countries in the U.S. Waiver Program to have one more year to include biometric features in their passports.

A one-year extension, Sensenbrenner said, "provides the VWP (Visa Waver Program) countries sufficient time to meet this deadline while reinforcing the commitment of the Congress and the Bush administration to improving the security aspects of the VWP."

The program lets citizens from 27 countries, including Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, and Australia, to come to the United States as temporary visitors without having to obtain a visa, as is normally required to enter the country.

The 2002 Border Security Act requires the governments of the countries in the program to certify they have programs to issue their nationals machine-readable passports that are tamper resistant and incorporate biometric identifiers no later than Oct. 26, 2004.

Sensenbrenner's bill, which already has bi-partisan support, was introduced Thursday.

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