H-1Bs and other foreign nationals in US may have to regularly provide biometric data


MUMBAI: The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proposing a regulation that will significantly expand its current biometrics collection policies to include palm prints, iris images, voice recognition and in certain circumstances – DNA. Such biometrics will also be collected from minors, as there will be no age restrictions.
Currently, the biometric collection is restricted largely to fingerprints and photographs from immigration applications and is used for background checks.
Foreign nations in the US, such as H-1B workers and their dependents (spouses and children) could be subject to regular biometric collections and background screenings, at any time, until they become US citizens. In addition, the proposed changes by DHS, could require submission of biometric data from US citizens, who are sponsoring relatives for immigration.
The proposed rule would authorize biometrics collection for identity verification in addition to new techniques. Voice, iris and facial recognition technologies are fast, accurate ways to confirm the identity of an applicant that don’t require physical contact, states DHS in a press release. It expects that the new rule would improve the screening and vetting process and reduce dependence on paper documents and biographic information to prove identity and familial relationships.
DHS will also be authorized to collect DNA or DNA test results to verify a claimed genetic relationship when the applicant is unable to provide sufficient documentary evidence to establish the claimed relationship.
“This proposed rule eliminates any ambiguity surrounding the Department’s use of biometrics, setting clear standards for how and why we collect and use this information,” said the Ken Cuccinelli, senior official. “Leveraging readily available technology to verify the identity of an individual we are screening is responsible governing. The collection of biometric information also guards against identity theft and thwarts fraudsters who are not who they claim to be,” he added.
The new regulation will be formally proposed on September 11, via publication in the Federal Register and will be open for public feedback for 30 days. This will follow vetting of the comments received and it will take several months for the rule to become final.
Andrea Flores, deputy director of immigration policy at the American Civil Liberties Union (UCLU), in a statement said, “The Trump administration is, once again, trying to radically change America’s immigration system. This time, they’re contemplating a new requirement to collect unprecedented personal information from immigrants and the US citizens who sponsor them throughout the immigration process and to potentially store that information even after the immigrants become citizens. Collecting a massive database of genetic blueprints won’t make us safer — it will simply make it easier for the government to surveil and target our communities and to bring us closer to a dystopian nightmare.”
“Trump’s goal is clear: to shut down the legal immigration system and make immigration as difficult as possible. Will Congress let him?” she added.

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