Powell urges delay of biometric passports deadline
WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Colin Powell was to urge Congress on Wednesday to give countries exempt from travel visas to the United States more time to issue high-tech passports to their citizens.
Under 2002 legislation aimed at enhancing border security and immigration regulations after the September 11, 2001, attacks, countries whose citizens can enter the United States without a visa must issue “biometric” passports by October 26.
Otherwise, the visitors must apply for a US visa.
The current law requires countries in the so-called “visa waiver program” to issue passports with “biometric indicators” — computer chips with a digitally encoded record of the bearerr’s face and possibly fingerprints — for their citizens to continue to be eligible for the scheme..
The waiver program covers 27 countries, including Australia, Japan, New Zealand and all EU member states except Greece. —AFP