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Border Crossing Card

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Title: Border Crossing Card  
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Subject: BCC, Illegal immigration to the United States, Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, Passport card
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Border Crossing Card

A Border Crossing Card (BCC) is a document that allows limited entry into the United States by visitors. The cards authorize visits to the border areas of the United States for a set amount of time.[1] Section 104 of the United States Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) serves as the legal basis for the issuance of Border Crossing Cards.


The first generation of machine readable BCC's, known as "laser visas",[2] was produced from April 1, 1998, until September 30, 2008. The laminated, credit card-size document is both a BCC and a B1/B2 visitor’s visa. The cards are valid for travel until the expiration date on the front of the card, usually ten years after issuance. They are nearly identical to the previous generation Permanent Resident Card.

October 1, 2008, marked the beginning of production of a second generation B1/B2 visa/BCC. The new card is similar in size to the old BCC, but contains enhanced graphics and technology. The original BCC was produced by the now defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service but the current card is produced by the Department of State.[3] It is virtually identical to the Passport Card, which is issued to citizens and nationals of the United States for the purposes of land and sea border crossings, in its general design layout. The card includes an RFID chip and Integrated Contactless Circuit and is part of the same PASS System that the Passport Card belongs to.[4]

Border Crossing Cards are issued exclusively to Mexican citizens.[5] Use of them accounts for the vast majority of non-immigration entry into the United States; in 2006 the Pew Hispanic Center noted that of 179 million "non-immigrant admissions" into the country, fully 148 million were Mexicans using Border Crossing Cards.[1]

Border Crossing Card issuance

  • BCC applicants at the consular sections in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Mérida receive a B1/B2 visa/Border Crossing foil that is affixed in the applicant’s passport instead of a card.
  • Beginning October 29, 2012, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City and Consulate General in Mérida will begin issuing Border Crossing Cards (often called “laser visas”) to applicants who qualify for tourist/business travel.
  • BCC applicants at all other Consulates receive the new Border Crossing Card.

See also


External links

  • visa types
  • Department of State - Citizens of Canada, Bermuda and Mexico- When is a Visa Required?
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