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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

[Federal Register: December 21, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 245)]
[Notices]               
[Page 72744-72745]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr21de07-99]                         

=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Bureau of Customs and Border Protection

 
Oral Declarations No Longer Satisfactory as Evidence of 
Citizenship and Identity

AGENCIES: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland 
Security.

[[Page 72745]]


ACTION: Notice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: U.S., Canadian and Bermudian citizens entering the United 
States at land or sea ports-of-entry must establish their identity and 
citizenship to the satisfaction of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection 
(CBP) Officer. Under current CBP procedures, such individuals may 
provide any proof of identity and citizenship. While most individuals 
provide documentary evidence of citizenship, such as a passport or 
birth certificate, individuals may, depending on the circumstances, be 
admitted on an oral declaration. Accordingly, CBP is amending its field 
guidance procedures to instruct CBP officers that citizenship 
ordinarily may not be established using only an oral declaration.
    This Notice informs the public that, effective January 31, 2008, 
all travelers will be expected to present documents proving 
citizenship, such as a birth certificate, and government-issued 
documents proving identity, such as a driver's license, when entering 
the United States through land and sea ports of entry.

DATES: This notice is effective January 31, 2008.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Colleen Manaher, WHTI, Office of Field 
Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 1300 Pennsylvania 
Avenue, NW., Room 5.4-D, Washington, DC 20229, telephone number (202) 
344-3003.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: All travelers entering the United States are 
inspected by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer. To enter 
the United States in conformance with the Immigration and Nationality 
Act (INA), U.S. citizens, Canadians and Bermudians must satisfy the CBP 
Officer of their identity and citizenship. See 8 CFR 235.1(b) and 
235.1(f)(1).
    In accordance with current CBP operational procedures, a CBP 
Officer may accept documentary evidence of citizenship from U.S. 
citizens arriving at land or sea ports of entry from within the Western 
Hemisphere, such as a passport or birth certificate, or may accept an 
oral declaration if, depending upon the circumstances presented, such a 
declaration is deemed sufficient to prove citizenship. When assessing 
an assertion of citizenship, the CBP Officer may ask for additional 
identification and proof of citizenship until the CBP Officer is 
satisfied that the traveler seeking entry into the United States is a 
U.S. citizen.
    Similarly, certain nonimmigrant aliens who are citizens of Canada 
and Bermuda are exempt from presenting a passport when entering the 
United States as nonimmigrant visitors from countries in the Western 
Hemisphere at land or sea ports-of-entry. 8 CFR 212.1(a)(1) and (2). 
Like U.S. citizens, these travelers are required to satisfy the 
inspecting CBP officer of their identities and citizenship at the time 
of their applications for admission. 8 CFR 235.1(f)(1). In accordance 
with current CBP operational procedures, a CBP Officer may accept 
documentary evidence of citizenship from Canadian and Bermudian 
citizens arriving from within the Western Hemisphere, such as a 
passport or birth certificate, or may, depending upon the circumstances 
presented, accept an oral declaration.
    CBP is now amending its field instructions to direct CBP Officers 
to no longer generally accept oral declarations as sufficient proof of 
citizenship and, instead, require documents that evidence identity and 
citizenship from U.S., Canadian, and Bermudian citizens entering the 
United States at land and sea ports-of-entry.
    Upon implementation, these changes in procedure will reduce the 
potential vulnerability posed by those who might falsely purport to be 
U.S., Canadian or Bermudian citizens trying to enter the United States 
by land or sea in reliance upon a mere oral declaration. Beginning on 
January 31, 2008, a person claiming U.S., Canadian, or Bermudian 
citizenship must establish that fact to the examining CBP Officer's 
satisfaction by presenting a citizenship document such as a birth 
certificate as well as a government-issued photo identification 
document. CBP retains its authority to request additional documentation 
when warranted and to make appropriate individual exceptions.
    The instruction for CBP Officers to no longer generally accept oral 
declarations alone as satisfactory evidence of citizenship is a change 
in DHS and CBP internal operating procedures, and therefore is exempt 
from notice and comment rulemaking requirements under the 
Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553(b).
    On June 26, 2007, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and 
Department of State (DOS) published a joint notice of proposed 
rulemaking to implement the final phase of the Western Hemisphere 
Travel Initiative (WHTI) and require persons entering the United States 
from Western Hemisphere countries to present a passport or other travel 
document as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security. See 72 FR 
35088. In the NPRM, DHS also explained that, separate from WHTI, 
beginning January 31, 2008, CBP would no longer accept oral 
declarations alone as proof of citizenship or identity at land and sea 
border ports-of-entry.
    DHS received five comments in response to the NRPM discussion on 
the change of practice concerning oral declarations. Although, as 
discussed above, the amendment to CBP procedures does not require 
notice and comment rulemaking, DHS will address those comments in the 
WHTI final rule. In summary, those comments were concerned about 
increased traffic and resulting travel delays at land border ports-of-
entry stemming from document requirements. CBP will rely on its 
operational experience in processing travelers entering the United 
States by land to ensure that these changes are implemented in a manner 
that will minimize delays while achieving the security benefit 
underlying WHTI.
    Accordingly, effective January 31, 2008, CBP Officers will no 
longer generally allow travelers claiming to be U.S., Canadian, or 
Bermudian citizens to establish citizenship by relying only on an oral 
declaration. Beginning on that date, all travelers, including those 
claiming to be U.S., Canadian, or Bermudian citizens arriving by land 
and sea will generally be expected to present some form of 
documentation to satisfy the CBP Officer of his or her identity and 
citizenship. For example, such documentation may include a government-
issued photo identification document presented with a citizenship 
document, such as a birth certificate.

    Dated: December 14, 2007.
Jayson P. Ahern,
Acting Commissioner, Customs and Border Protection.
[FR Doc. E7-24691 Filed 12-20-07; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 9111-14-P



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