After a long flight to the USA, the last thing a visitor to the USA wants to do is stand in a long queue at the US border in order to clear customs and immigration control. Enter the "Mobile Passport Control" App, in use at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as of 13 August 2014, with plans to expand to additional airports very soon. The app is only available for iPhones and iPads at the moment, though it will also be made available to Android users in the future.
How does the app work?
Before leaving for the USA, download the Mobile Passport Control App from the Apple Store and create a profile. Once you arrive in the USA, you will fill out the 'New trip' section and a customs declaration, submitting both to US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). A QR code will display on your phone or tablet, which will be valid for 4 hours. You can then skip the US customs and immigration queues and proceed directly to the Mobile Passport Control express lane. Here, you will show the digital barcode on your smartphone to US border control officials in order to enter the USA.
What are the benefits of the app?
The most important practical consideration of using the app is that users will experience significantly shorter wait times at the US border. However, CBP also touts the app's built-in strong privacy settings, eliminates the need for a pen, and also saves a person's user profile for use during future US trips.
What are the drawbacks of the app?
At the moment, the app is only available to travelers to Atlanta, Georgia and only to iPhone or iPad users, though there are plans to expand availability. In addition, although filling out the forms can be accomplished without a wi-fi or mobile data connection, a connection is required in order to submit the forms and obtain the necessary digital barcode on one's smartphone.
Want to learn more?
US Customs and Border Protection has created a dedicated website for the Mobile Passport Control App, available at http://mobilepassport.us/. The website contains screen shots of the app and the available forms, as well as a helpful Q & A section.
The American Immigration Law Office Ltd is a US immigration law firm that regularly represents clients at the US Embassy in London, United Kingdom. Contact the firm's US immigration lawyer in London, UK, regarding your US immigration matter!