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Korea, U.S. to ease immigration rules

Seoul and Washington have agreed to accelerate moves to allow automatic immigration checks in both countries from next year.

On the sidelines of the 19th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hawaii, the Korean and the U.S. governments agreed to allow fast-tracked immigration procedures for “trusted travelers” of the two countries, without a face-to-face interview with an immigration officer.

The trusted travelers need to submit personal data, including fingerprints and photographs, to the authorities before leaving their home country.

“It has not been decided yet what kind of bio data should be collected and how the identification process will work,” a high-ranking government official was quoted by the Yonhap news agency as saying in Hawaii.

“We’re aiming for implementation in January next year.”

News reports said the U.S. suggested all APEC member countries implement the automatic immigration checks at the summit, while expressing willingness to run the system with Korea first.

In April, the Justice Ministry and the United States Department of Homeland Security signed a joint declaration to allow citizens of both countries to pass through the automated immigration control desk at airports.

By Kim Yoon-mi (