Canadians exempted from expanded U.S. fingerprinting plan

U.S. expands fingerprinting and photographing requirements at its borders; Canadians not affected.

Border guards at U.S. airports and seaports will fingerprint and photograph visitors from some of Washington's closest allies, beginning this year.

The Department of Homeland Security said on Friday it was expanding a program called US-VISIT. Introduced in January, it requires people from a large number of countries to have their pictures and fingerprints taken when they arrive in the U.S. by airplane or boat.

As of Sept. 30, visitors arriving from 27 more countries, including Britain, Spain and Japan, will have to do the same.

Canada and Mexico are not yet affected by the new rules.

* Andorra * Australia * Austria * Belgium * Brunei * Denmark * Finland * France * Germany * Iceland * Ireland * Italy * Japan * Liechtenstein * Luxembourg * Monaco * Netherlands * New Zealand * Norway * Portugal * San Marino * Singapore * Slovenia * Spain * Sweden * Switzerland * United Kingdom
All the countries affected are on the "visa-waiver" list, meaning citizens from those countries can visit the United States for up to 90 days without a visa. 

About 13 million people from those countries visit the United States each year.

Their visa requirements won't change, so they won't have to submit to the lengthy process of consulate interviews and background checks required of visitors from countries not on the list.

Canadians only need visas to enter the United States to work or attend school. The Department of Homeland Security made the changes because most countries on the visa-waiver list won't meet an October 2004 deadline for developing passports that include biometric information.

Since January, five million visitors have been fingerprinted and photographed at the border. The U.S. government says more than 200 persons with prior or suspected criminal or immigration violations have been caught because of it.

The rules have caused resentment in other countries, however. Brazil has responded by requiring U.S. citizens to be fingerprinted and photographed before they can enter that country.