U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology Program (US-VISIT) [Updated February 18, 2004] [open pdf - 146KB]
From the Summary: "Congress first mandated that the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) implement an automated entry and exit data system that would track the arrival and departure of every alien. The objective was, in part, to develop a mechanism that would be able to track nonimmigrants who overstayed their visas as part of a broader emphasis on immigration control. Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks there was a shift in priority for implementing the system. While the tracking of nonimmigrants who overstayed their visas remained an important goal, border security has become the paramount concern. Following the terrorist attacks, provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act and the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2002 encouraged a more expeditious development of the system and directed that biometric identifiers be used in passports, visas and other travel documents. The Border Security Act requires all U.S. ports of entry to have equipment and software installed that will allow biometric comparison and the authentication of all visas and other travel and entry documents by October 26, 2004. Moreover, implementing the requirements of an automated entry and exit data system is not without controversy. The automated entry and exit data system was administratively renamed the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) Program by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It is reportedly going to be implemented in phases over the next several years and include resources and services from a number of federal, state, local, and foreign entities."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32234