Wright said data was collected on visitors under strict U.S. privacy protection rules, and that the new 10-print scan would not take more time than the current check; usually about 10 seconds.
The prints are checked against U.S. security watch lists drawn up by U.S. Homeland Security and other policing agencies. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency also have access to the prints, Wright said.
The 10-print scans would be "virtually 100 percent match accurate," he said.
"We are going to know that that's you," Wright said. Future changes include adding other biometric identifiers; such as facial or retinal scans; to better rule out fraud, he said.
"The fingerprint is a foundation biometric, so once your identity is established using the fingerprint and your identity is fixed then we believe for verifying we can move to any of the future technologies as they become better and faster," he said.
Airports chosen for the initial pilot project include Boston Logan International, Chicago's O'Hare, George Bush Houston Intercontinental, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Miami International, John F. Kennedy International, Orlando International, San Francisco International and Washington Dulles International.
The current US-VISIT program that uses a two-print arrival system is being used in 115 airports, 15 seaports and 154 land border checks. 100 million prints had been taken so far.
More than 34,000 people whose names showed up on U.S. watch lists were denied U.S. entry as a result of the system.