Border security visa system needs work, GAO says

| Thursday, July 17, 2003

The GAO recently found the federal departments of State, Homeland Security and Justice could better manage their visa process if they shared information in a more effective manner.

In an October 2002 study, GAO found State did not provide clear policies on how consular officers should balance national security with the desire to facilitate legitimate travel when issuing visas.

GAO also found State and Justice disagreed on the evidence needed to deny a visa on terrorism grounds.

Meanwhile, a June 2003 report by GAO found the visa revocation process was not being used aggressively to alert homeland-security and law-enforcement agencies that individuals who entered the country before their visas were revoked might be security risks; and the process broke down when information on revocations was not being shared between State and appropriate immigration and law-enforcement officials.

“These weaknesses diminish the effectiveness of the visa process in keeping potential terrorists out of the United Sates,” GAO said.

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