'EZPass' for visa holders

International travelers who need visas to enter the United States will soon have radio frequency identification (RFID) tags installed in their visa forms, the Homeland Security Department announced today.

DHS will pilot test a program starting Aug. 1 that will put passive RFID tags into the I-94 forms that allow multiple entries into the United States, said Jim Williams, director of the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program, which screens foreign nationals entering and exiting the country to weed out potential terrorists.

The technology will enable U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel to collect information on the entry and exit of international visitors without having to stop the vehicles in which they travel, Williams said. The tags will operate similar to tags vehicle operators use to pay tolls electronically, he said.

The new I-94s will have an RFID tag woven into their card stocks, Williams said. Visa holders will get the new forms as they come in to replace their expired ones, he said.

The pilot test will run through March 2006, Williams said. It will start at five U.S. land ports, including Nogales, Ariz., and Blaine, Wash., he said. Eventually, it will be implemented at all U.S. land border crossings, he said.

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