Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP

How to Protect Personal Data in Redesigned Green Card


One of USCIS’s recent improvements to the green card is an embedded Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip that allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at ports of entry to read personal data embedded in the card from a distance and compare it immediately to personal data on file. Additionally, the RFID chip adds a level of security to confirm that the card has not been tampered with, and makes it more difficult to counterfeit cards.

USCIS provides a foil envelope encasing the new card, and advises permanent residents to keep the card in the envelope at all times to prevent unwanted wireless communication with the RFID chip. Because the RFID chip can be scanned by any RFID scanner within a reasonable distance, the envelope is needed to block the effective range of the chip, reducing the possibility that personal data may be electronically “pick-pocketed.”

CBP has implemented “Ready Lane” pilot programs at various ports of entry, including El Paso and Donna, Texas, and Otay Mesa, California. RFID technology expedites travel across the land border because CBP officers do not have to manually enter traveler information during the primary inspection. Thus, RFID-enabled travel documents reduce the time it takes to process travelers at the border.

To use Ready Lane, travelers should follow three simple steps as they approach a U.S. land port of entry with their RFID-enabled green card: (1) stop at the entry to the inspection lane and wait for a signal to move forward; (2) remove the green card from its protective envelope and hold it up with the flat front face of the card toward a window on the driver’s side. The RFID chip will be read automatically while the vehicle proceeds to the inspection booth; and (3) stop at the inspection booth and be prepared to present documents for all travelers in the vehicle to the CBP officer.

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