"Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, considerable concern was raised because the 19 terrorists were aliens (i.e., noncitizens or foreign nationals) who apparently entered the United States on temporary visas. Fears that lax enforcement of immigration laws regulating the admission of foreign nationals into the United States makes the United States vulnerable to further terrorist attacks led many to call for revisions in the visa policy and changes in who administers immigration law. [...] As these more stringent visa policies have gone into force, however, new concerns have arisen about visa processing delays. Visa applicants often face extensive wait times for interviews. Whether these delays are having a deleterious effect on travel and commerce has become an issue. Some now question whether sufficient resources and staff are in place to manage visa issuances in the post- September 11 world. [...] This report opens with an overview of visa issuances, with sections on procedures for aliens coming to live in the United States permanently and on procedures for aliens admitted for temporary stays. It includes a discussion of visa screening policies, including inadmissibility, databases, an analysis of visa refusals, biometric visas and other major visa policy procedures. The final section analyzes selected issues in the 110th Congress, notably new technologies, impact on travel and commerce, and security concerns. Summaries of key laws revising visa policy enacted in the 107th-109th Congresses appear in Appendix A."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31512