What Are E-Gates?
Short for “electronic gates,” e-Gates are a newly designed system of border control automation. The technique combines electronic passports (called ePassports) and biometrics.
When an ePassport holder has their biometrics captured, as is required for H-1B and other visa beneficiaries, that information is stored in the ePassport’s memory. The biometrics are captured when the holder approaches the e-Gates. If the passport and visa match and are valid, the gates automatically open and allow the holder through.
This only applies to eligible visa holders and isn’t available in all countries yet. Currently, e-Gates are in use in the UK, Portugal, France, Australia, Mexico, and Italy. However, as the technology demonstrates accuracy and efficiency, it is expected to roll out in other countries.
E-Gates speed up the entry process and make the whole customs task less stressful for everyone involved. But only some are eligible to use this system.
Individuals who can take advantage of e-Gates meet the following criteria:
● They hold an ePassport or passport book with an embedded biometric data chip.
● Said passport and chip are valid for at least 180 days past entry.
● Holders are at least 16 or 18, depending on the home country and country of admittance’s regulations.
If all of these criteria are met, and the holder has a valid visa, the process of admittance through the e-Gates becomes contactless. Travelers are inspected as usual, but the screening is automatic. They enter their destination with a marked reduction in delays, and the customs and inspection windows have shorter lines.
Although e-Gates speed up much of the process, it’s possible that your H-1B visa may be questioned, and you’ll receive a secondary, manual inspection. This is normal, especially as the process continues to be perfected. Some airports require a short, in-person meeting with a customs officer, even if the e-Gate system lets you through.
In the United States, the e-Gates system isn’t available yet. Instead, the country uses an Automated Passport Control (APC) system to reduce lines and make entry easier for eligible individuals. US and Canadian citizens, legal permanent residents, certain Visa Waiver Program participants, and some US H-1B and other visa holders can use APC. This will automate the main inspection process.
Instead of the biometrics screening that matches the holder with their e-Passports, travelers use the APC system to scan their passports. An automated camera takes a photograph, and each person answers inspection questions at a kiosk to verify their flight information, demographics, and biographics. Upon successfully completing this automated process, the traveler is provided with a receipt, which is then shown to the final CBP Officer before entering the US.
This system isn’t available at all airports but is rolling out in more places. Provided your H-1B visa is up-to-date, the process should make entry and re-entry easier. However, you’ll still likely have an in-person interview and customs inspection.
Electronic systems like ePassports and e-Gates are beneficial, but, as with all technology, they can fail at crucial moments. Talk to your immigration legal expert to find out how to prepare for entering the US with your H-1B visa. At Visa2US, we can help you document your entrances and exits for those visits that don’t use stamping.
Our friendly professional experts are ready to guide you through the H-1B process from start to finish. Obtaining your H-1B visa and traveling abroad always have challenges to prepare for, no matter how many times you’ve done it. Minimize the unexpected issues throughout the process by letting an expert at Visa2US lead the way.