04 May 2011

Report reveals huge backlog of US visa overstay records

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According to a report released on Tuesday, American immigration authorities are facing a huge backlog of approx. 1.6 million records involving people who have potentially stayed in the United States after their US visa expired.

US Visa

US authorities are facing a huge backlog of records involving people who have overstayed in the United States after their visas expired.

The report was made by the US Government Accountability Office, which acts as Congress' investigative arm. It reveals that the Department of Homeland Security's US-VISIT system had a backlog of some 1.6 million records of potential US Visa overstays as of January 2011.

In a statement on the situation, Joe Lieberman, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee said: "It is simply unacceptable that we are still unable to systematically identify people who overstay -- some of whom may be terrorists waiting to attack innocent Americans."

The report also says that some of the records may include duplicates because of computer system changes, though this has yet to be confirmed.  It is also possible that cases who are not necessarily considered to be a priority have been included.

As a matter of policy, records involving visa overstays of 90 days or less or those who are not deemed to pose a national security or public safety risk do not trigger an immediate lookout warning, according to the report.

Officials in charge of the US-VISIT program have revealed that, of the $5 million available to help deal with the backlog, $3.7 million has been spent and more money will be needed to tackle the issue.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their US visa application to the US Embassy.

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