Visa Waiver Program: Limitations with Department of Homeland Security's Plan to Verify Departure of Foreign Nationals

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Visa Waiver Program, which enables citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without first obtaining a visa, has many benefits, yet also presents security, law enforcement, and illegal immigration risks. In August 2007, Congress passed legislation that provides the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with the authority to expand the program to additional countries whose nationals' applications for short-term business and tourism visas were refused between 3 and 10 percent of the time in the prior fiscal year. Countries must also meet certain conditions, ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. February 28, 2008.

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Visa Waiver Program, which enables citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without first obtaining a visa, has many benefits, yet also presents security, law enforcement, and illegal immigration risks. In August 2007, Congress passed legislation that provides the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with the authority to expand the program to additional countries whose nationals' applications for short-term business and tourism visas were refused between 3 and 10 percent of the time in the prior fiscal year. Countries must also meet certain conditions, and DHS must first complete and certify a number of required actions aimed at enhancing the security of the program. This testimony will focus on one of these required actions--namely, that a system be in place that can verify the departure of 97 percent of foreign nationals who depart through U.S. airports (referred to as an air exit system). Our observations are based on our review of relevant legislation, regulations and agency operating procedures, and prior GAO reports on the Visa Waiver Program and immigrant and visitor entry and exit tracking systems, as well as on discussions with federal agency officials. In commenting on a draft of this statement, DHS emphasized that it had not finalized its plan for certifying the "97 percent" requirement, but that the department believes the current plan would meet the legislative requirement. The Department of State also provided technical comments, which we incorporated, as appropriate."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • February 28, 2008

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  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Visa Waiver Program: Limitations with Department of Homeland Security's Plan to Verify Departure of Foreign Nationals, text, February 28, 2008; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc292698/: accessed December 13, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.