Visa Issuances: Policy, Issues, and Legislation [Updated October 13, 2004]   [open pdf - 105KB]

"Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, considerable concern has been raised because the 19 terrorists were aliens who apparently entered the United States with temporary visas despite provisions in immigration laws that bar the admission of terrorists. Foreign nationals not already legally residing in the United States who wish to come to the United States generally must obtain a visa to be admitted, with certain exceptions noted in law. The report of the 9/11 Commission maintained that border security was not considered a national security matter prior to September 11, and as a result the State Department's consular officers were not treated as full partners in counterterrorism efforts. The 9/11 Commission has made several recommendations that underscore the urgency of implementing legislative provisions on visa policy and immigration control that Congress enacted several years ago. Bills implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations (S. 2845, H.R. 10, S. 2774/H.R. 5040, and H.R. 5024) have various provisions that would affect visa issuances. House-passed H.R. 10 would further broaden the security and terrorism grounds of inadmissibility to exclude aliens who have participated in the commission of acts of torture or extrajudicial killings abroad or who are members of political, social or other groups that endorse or espouse terrorist activity. House-passed H.R. 10 also would deploy technologies (e.g., biometrics) to detect potential terrorist indicators on travel documents; establish an Office of Visa and Passport Security; and train consular officers in the detection of terrorist travel patterns."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL31512
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