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Homeland Security

Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS)

APIS is an automated system capable of performing database queries on passengers and crewmembers prior to their arrival in or departure from the United States.

Legislation requires all commercial air and sea carriers operating inbound and outbound to electronically transmit APIS data on all passengers and crewmembers to CBP.

Air carriers must electronically transmit their passenger data within 15 minutes of a flight's departure. The crewmember data must be submitted prior to the flight's departure.

For sea carriers, the proposed rule by Immigration, dated January 3, 2003, states that a vessel on a voyage of: (1) 96 hours or more must submit the information required in the crewmember and passenger manifests at least 96 hours before entering the port or place of destination; (2) less than 96 hours but not less than 24 hours must submit the crewmember and passenger manifests not less than 24 hours before entering the port or place of destination; or (3) less than 24 hours must submit the crewmember and passenger manifests prior to departing the port or place of departure.

The APIS data is checked against the combined federal law enforcement database, known as the Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS). IBIS includes data from the databases of CBP and 21 other federal agencies. Names are also checked against the FBI National Crime Information Center wanted persons database.

Where available, carriers utilize document readers, which are placed at ticket counters and departure gates around the world to assist them in the collection of APIS data from machine-readable travel documents, such as passports. The data collected by the carrier is then transmitted to CBP. In order to assist local carrier managers, CBP has assigned APIS Port Coordinators at all U.S. international airports nationwide. CBP also designated National APIS Account Managers to assist carriers with issues related to the transmission of APIS data.

On October 1, 2002, INS implemented the Visa Waiver Permanent Program Act Support System. This system electronically collects arrival and departure information for all passengers and crew members who are provided a waiver and who arrive and depart U.S. airports and seaports. It modifies two existing systems-Customs' Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) and INS's Arrival Departure Information System (ADIS)- in collecting information.

Upon arrival: Before entering an air or sea port of entry, commercial carriers must electronically submit manifest information (e.g., for each passenger and crew member, the person's name, address, country of residence, and passport number) to APIS. This information is queried against several databases, including the Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS) Consolidated Lookout Database and the Datashare Immigrant Visa database. Receiving the manifest data before carriers arrive allows INS to review the data beforehand and identify passengers who will require referral to secondary inspection. The inspector also inputs the "Admit Until" date into IBIS, which establishes the foreign national's length of stay. Both the manifest data and the approved length of stay are transmitted to ADIS.

Upon departure: Carriers are also required to electronically submit to APIS manifest information of passengers leaving the United States from an air or sea port. The departure manifest information is transmitted from APIS to ADIS, which uses name-matching algorithms to match the arrival and departure records. The matching results are used to identify persons who have overstayed their authorized visits.

According to the entry exit program manager, INS has been able to match 98 percent of received departure records to arrival records. The program manager also estimated that there are currently 16 million outstanding (i.e., unmatched) arrival records. He also estimated that INS receives about 350,000 arrival records per day.

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Page last modified: 13-07-2011 12:50:41 ZULU