U.S., Korea to allow faster immigration

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U.S., Korea to allow faster immigration

HONOLULU - Korea and the United States have agreed to step up preparations to provide travelers from each other’s country with automated immigration checks instead of face-to-face interviews, an official said Sunday.

In April, the Ministry of Justice and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security signed an agreement that called for expanding the U.S. Global Entry Program (GEP) to Korean visitors and vice versa.

Simplifying immigration procedures was one of the topics at a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum on Hawaii on Sunday. The “Honolulu Declaration” adopted at the end of the meeting called for APEC members to work toward the cause.

In particular, Korean and U.S. officials agreed to implement the automated immigration system as early as January, a government official said. If the system goes into effect, “trusted travelers” from both countries could use automated immigration counters without having to go through conventional inspections, he said.

Biometric information, such as fingerprints, should be registered to become “trusted travelers,” he said.

“It hasn’t been decided yet what biometric information to collect and other details,” the official said. “We are making preparations under a goal to implement the system in January.”

If put into effect, it will make Korea the third country to be included in the GEP after the Netherlands and Germany.

The GEP system, allowing preapproved and trusted members to get faster airport customs clearance, is used in 20 U.S. airports. Korea operates a similar program called the Korea Immigration Smart Service (KISS) at Incheon and Gimpo international airports.

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