R 152341Z MAY 02
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS
SPECIAL EMBASSY PROGRAM
UNCLAS STATE 093239
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 - ALDAC No. 1
1. Summary. On May 14, 2002, the President signed into law H.R. 3525, the "Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002." This telegram provides a summary of the provisions of the new law pertinent to visa operations. Procedures for implementing these provisions are being discussed and will be provided to posts at a later date. End Summary.
2. Sec. 101 Enhanced review of visa applicants; Authorization of appropriations for hiring and training
Section 101 of the law requires the Secretary of State to implement enhanced security measures for the review of visa applicants. The law provides an authorization for funds to hire additional staff and to train consular officers and diplomatic security agents for this purpose.
3. Sec. 103 Machine-readable visa fees
Section 103 of the law provides for an increase of the MRV fee to 65 Dollars as well as authority to collect an additional surcharge of 10 Dollars for issuance of the MRV in a non-machine-readable passport. (The Department''s cable 02 State 84649 instructs that all receipts indicating a payment date of June 1, 2002 or later must show the 65 dollar payment.) (The policy implications and practical aspects of collecting a surcharge are under consideration). The Department also now has the authority to retain all MRV fees until they are expended.
4. Sec. 201 Interim measures for access to and coordination of law enforcement and other information
a. Requires law enforcement and intelligence agencies to make a maximum effort to share information relevant to admissibility and deportability of aliens with State and USCIS pending development of a comprehensive datashare plan required by this act.
b. Requires, no later than September 11, 2002, that the President identify to the Congress the information required from the law enforcement and intelligence communities for use by State and USCIS to screen applicants for admission.
c. Requires within one year of passage the development and implementation of a plan for Federal law enforcement agencies and the intelligence community to provide the Department and the USCIS with such information. The plan must have adequate safeguards for the security of the information and for the protection of the confidentiality of informants.
d. Advances from two years (as enacted in the USA Patriot Act) to fifteen months the post-enactment period after which the President must certify a technology standard (biometric identifier) for use in identifying aliens seeking admission into the U.S. and from 18 months to one year the period after which the President must first report to the Congress on the progress being made in this regard.
5. Sec. 202 CHIMERA System
Section 202 requires that the USCIS must integrate all of its data systems into one system which shall be a part of an interoperable interagency system also established under this section. The new integrated system is to be known as the CHIMERA system. The system must employ the technology standard developed under section 201 to identify aliens and must be available to consular officers and other officials responsible for determining admissibility of or investigating or identifying aliens. The system must have advanced name-searching capability, including being capable of linguistically sensitive searches. It also must have adequate user support.
6. Sec 203 Commission on Interoperable Datasharing
Section 203 creates an eight-member commission to oversee the interoperable system. Members will be selected from a list of candidates recommended by congressional leaders.
7. Sec. 301 Electronic provisions of visa files
Under section 301 the Department must provide to the Service an electronic version of the visa file of an alien who has been issued a visa to ensure that the data is available to USCIS inspectors before the arrival of the alien at the port of entry. (The Department can provide 100% of visa data to USCIS, but IBIS capability limits the transfer. We currently transfer to ports of entry (Customs and USCIS) 100% of our IV data and all current NIV data since December 1, 2001.)
8. Sec. 302 Implementation of an integrated entry and exit data system
Section 302 requires the implementation of an integrated entry and exit database containing arrival and departure information from machine-readable visas, passports, and other travel and entry documents possessed by aliens. The system must utilize the technology standard described in section 201.
9. Sec. 303 Machine-readable, tamper-resistant entry and exit documents
Under section 302, beginning October 26, 2004, the Department and USCIS must issue only machine-readable, tamper-resistant visas, and other travel and entry documents that use biometric identifiers. Ports of entry shall use equipment and software to allow biometric comparison and authentication of all travel documents. Additionally, by October 26, 2004, in order for a country to remain eligible for participation in the visa waiver program its government must certify that it has a program to issue to its nationals machine-readable passports that are tamper-resistant and which incorporate biometric and authentication identifiers that satisfy the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). After October 26, 2004 an alien seeking admission under the visa waiver program must present such a passport unless the alien''s passport was issued prior to that date.
10. Sec. 304 Terrorist lookout committees
Under section 304, the Secretary of State must establish a terrorist lookout committee at each mission. The committee shall utilize the cooperative resources of all elements of the mission to identify known and potential terrorists and to develop information on those individuals, The committee shall bring such information to the attention of the consular officers and ensure names are entered into the appropriate lookout databases. (The Department is studying necessary modifications to the existing Visas Viper program in order to implement this provision.)
11. Sec. 305 Improved terrorist identification training for consular officers
Section 305 requires specialized training for consular officers for the purpose of identifying applicants who pose safety and security threats, particularly those inadmissible under INA 212(a)(3)(A) and (B). As a part of the program the Secretary must work with law enforcement and intelligence agencies to provide to the Bureau of Consular Affairs reports, bulletins and updates relevant to terrorism and the screening of visa applicants who pose a threat to the United States.
12. Sec. 306 Restriction of NIV issuance to aliens from countries of state-sponsored terrorism
Section 306 restricts the issuance of nonimmigrant visas to aliens who are nationals of countries that are state sponsors of international terrorism unless it has been determined by the Secretary that the alien does not pose a safety or security threat. (Discussion of enhanced screening requirements for these aliens is under way. Consuls should follow current procedures pending receipt of further instructions. The Department has currently determined that Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria are countries that are state sponsors of international terrorism.)
13. Sec. 307 Designation of program countries under the visa waiver program
Under section 307, as a requirement for original designation and for continuing participation of a country in the visa waiver program, each country must report to the U.S. the theft of its blank passports in a timely manner. This section also reduces from five to two years the period after which each participating country in the visa waiver program must undergo a review and re-certification by USCIS and State of its participation. Further, this section provides that no alien may be admitted under the visa waiver program until the USCIS has determined that the alien does not appear in any of the appropriate lookout databases.
14. Sec. 308 Tracking system for stolen passports
Section 308 requires that, beginning October 26, 2002, consular and immigration officials shall, within 72 hours of notification of the loss or theft of a U.S. or foreign passport, enter into an electronic data system the corresponding identification number for the lost or stolen passport. To the extent possible, consular and immigration officers shall also enter the corresponding identification number of passports lost or stolen prior to the implementation of the data system. (Data on issued but lost U.S. passports and lost, blank, foreign passports is available to ports of entry through IBIS).
15. Sec. 401 Study on feasibility of North American national security program
Section 401 requires a study to determine the feasibility of establishing a program which would enable foreign national travelers to the United States to voluntarily submit to pre-clearance procedures to determine admissibility into the United States. Consideration should also be given to the feasibility of expanding the pre-clearance program to include aliens traveling to Canada or Mexico.
16. Sec. 501 Foreign student monitoring program
Section 501 has a number of parts related to visa procedures:
a. It strengthens the already existing monitoring and verification requirements established for students and exchange visitors by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1966 (Pub. L. 101-649). The USCIS and the Department must establish an electronic means to monitor and verify issuance of an I-20 or IAP-66, transmittal of the I-20 and IAP-66, issuance of the F, M, or J visa, admission of an alien as an F, M or J nonimmigrant, registration and enrollment of the F, M, or J alien, and any change in or termination of studies or program.
b. Prior to the issuance of a visa, an alien entering the United States as an F, M or J nonimmigrant must supply his or her current address; the name(s)/address(es) of spouse, children, parents or siblings; the names of contacts in the country of residence who can verify information about him or her; and any previous work history, including name(s)/address(es) of employers.
c. Beginning September 11, 2003, and lasting until full implementation of the electronic student tracking system (now known as SEVIS) consular officers may not issue an F, M, or J visa unless they have received electronic evidence of acceptance from the accepting institution. Upon issuance they must transmit to USCIS a notice of visa issuance.
d. This section also requires USCIS to provide to consular officers no later than June 13, 2002, a list of institutions approved to accept F and M nonimmigrants.
(Although the requirement for the collection of additional information from F, J and M visa applicants mentioned in (b) above is effective immediately, it will necessitate the use of a new form or enhancements to an existing form before it can be implemented. Notice of issuance of student visas as mentioned in (c) above is already accomplished through datashare).
17. Sec. 601 Extension of deadline for presentation of new biometric Border Crossing Card
Section 601 amends the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to extend until September 30, 2002 the deadline after which aliens entering the United States using a BCC must present the new laser visa. (Thus, old BCCs will be acceptable for entry on or before that date.)
18. Sec. 603 International Cooperation
Section 603 requires the Department and the USCIS, in consultation with the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, to conduct a study of alternatives for encouraging or requiring Canada, Mexico and VWP countries to join in the development of an intergovernmental network of interoperable electronic data systems which would facilitate access to each country''s law enforcement and intelligence information.
19. Section 606 Retention of NIV applications
Section 606 requires the Department to retain copies of all NIV applications (for issuances and refusals) for a period of seven years from the date of application. (The Department''s cable, 01 STATE 157778, previously instructed posts to retain NIV applications indefinitely.)
20. As procedures for implementation of the requirements of this act are determined, additional instructions will be sent via cable. In the meantime, consular officers should take no action to implement the provisions described above.
21. Minimize considered.