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DHS Tracking of Visa Overstays is Hindered by Insufficient Technology

Executive Summary

We determined that DHS’ information technology systems did not effectively support U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) visa tracking operations.  Specifically, ICE personnel responsible for investigating visa overstays had to piece together information from dozens of systems and databases, some of which were not integrated and did not electronically share information.  Additionally, ICE did not ensure that its field personnel received the training and guidance needed to properly use the systems currently available to conduct visa overstay tracking.  Further, DHS lacked a completed comprehensive biometric exit system at U.S. ports of departure to capture information on nonimmigrants departing the country.  As a result, DHS could not account for all visa overstays in a report to the Congress.  Manual checking across multiple systems used for visa tracking contributed to delays in investigating suspects who potentially posed public safety or homeland security risks.  We recommended the DHS Chief Information Officer continue to work with components to further eliminate duplication, improve information sharing, and properly align system access, especially for system modernization efforts, across DHS according to visa tracking mission requirements.  We made five recommendations.

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