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Travelers to US Face Visa Delays Due to New Security Procedures

Travelers to the United States may face greater scrutiny starting Tuesday, under a new policy designed to fight terrorism. At the U.S. embassy in Cairo, officials are warning Egyptians they may be among those targeted for the new measures, which could delay their trips.

Beginning Tuesday, some travelers to the United States may be fingerprinted, photographed, and required to undergo questioning by immigration officials.

In addition, those who are put through the new procedures will have to register with the U.S. Immigration Service if they plan to remain in the country for more than 30 days. They will also be required to inform the service when they leave.

It is all part of new rules announced in June that officials say are aimed at making the United States more secure after the events of September 11, 2001. "You have to look at the participants of who was involved September 11 and that certainly has had an impact on who we are looking at," said Ann Syrett, the U.S. Consul General in Cairo. "Every government has a right to set up whatever it feels is necessary to evaluate applicants who want to come into the borders of that country."

The U.S. embassy in Cairo issued a memorandum detailing the new procedures and warning travelers they may experience greater delays once they arrive in the United States.

Since January, the United States has imposed a host of new rules regarding immigration and visas. For example, the names of most Arab men between the ages of 16 and 45 seeking visas to the United States are submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington for security checks.

Prior to September 11 obtaining a U.S. visa was a 5-10 day process for many people. Now, it can take as long as three months.