This document contains findings on the ability of Consular officers to adequately process NIV (Non-immigrant visas) with respect to national security. It also discusses the Viper program to provide names of potential terrorists to CLASS (Consular Lookout and Support System). The events of September 11, 2001, notably changed our perspective on the admission of aliens to the United States. In retrospect, the previous emphasis on immigration left the Unites States vulnerable to the threat of aliens intent not on remaining in the country as immigrants, but in harming American citizens and institutions. The NIV issuance process as it existed before September 11 was inadequate to meet that threat. Since then, steps have been taken to address this problem, though existing policies and resources remain inadequate. This report addresses several elements of this issue including policy, staffing, secure workspace, and training. A classified annex addresses findings concerning the Visas Viper Program established in 1993 to identify potential terrorists and make their names available in the Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS). The post-September 11 era should have witnessed immediate and dramatic changes in CA's direction of the visa process. This has not happened. A fundamental readjustment by Department leadership regarding visa issuance and denial has not taken place. The Department still does not fully appreciate the consular function as part of a coordinated national effort to manage border security and implement the INA, both to prevent the travel of those who might present risks to the Unites States and its citizens and also to facilitate legitimate travel. CA continues to experience shortcomings that include: lack of uniformity in visa processing from post to post; and lack of a planning staff to develop and advance options for consular input into border security initiatives and directions. If the visa process is to be made more secure, it must be considered as a part of a larger process beginning with the visa process and continuing through the admission of aliens to the United States and tracking them while they remain in this country.
Department of State, Office of Inspector General, Report No. ISP-I-03-26
U.S. Dept. of State Office of Inspector General: http://www.oig.state.gov/