Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

US Fingerprint Checks Mean More Flight Delays; BRITONS WITH VISAS WILL BE PHOTOGRAPHED ON ARRIVAL IN AMERICA

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

US Fingerprint Checks Mean More Flight Delays; BRITONS WITH VISAS WILL BE PHOTOGRAPHED ON ARRIVAL IN AMERICA

Article excerpt

Byline: JAMES LANGTON;RICHARD EDWARDS

BRITISH visitors with visas will be fingerprinted and photographed when they arrive in the United States from today.

The new security measures, aimed at all foreigners arriving in the US, began as Osama bin Laden released an audio tape urging the Muslim world to rise up against allied forces in Iraq.

And in Britain, Transport Secretary Alistair Darling warned that the airline security alerts of recent days could be the start of years of delays for passengers.

Tomorrow he will meet leaders of the British Airline Pilots' Association, which criticised his decision last week to deploy armed "sky marshals" on trans -atlantic flights.

The US fingerprint regime could mean longer immigration queues at airports, despite a pledge by American authorities that it will take less than 30 seconds extra to check each visa holder.

It is likely to affect only a small number of British travellers - mostly students at US universities and others working in America. For the moment, US officials will exempt anyone visiting America for less than 90 days under the visa waiver programme. This is used by citizens in 28 countries considered to be a lower terrorist risk, mostly in Europe.

The changes are intended to track millions-of foreigners arriving in the US.

About 24 million visitors at 115 airports and 14 ports will have to submit to finger scans and having their photograph taken.

The Bin Laden tape was aired on Arab TV station Al Jazeera as Prime Minister Tony Blair paid a visit to British troops in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

The fugitive leader of al Qaeda referred to a holy war against the "crusaders" attempting to conquer all Gulf states. He said: "My message is to incite you against the conspiracies, especially those uncovered by the occupation of the crusaders in Iraq under the pretext of weapons of mass destruction. …

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