INS Fingerprinting of Aliens:

Efforts to Ensure Authenticity of Aliens' Fingerprints

GGD-95-40: Published: Dec 22, 1994. Publicly Released: Dec 22, 1994.

Additional Materials:


Norman J. Rabkin
(202) 512-3610


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) fingerprinting procedures for aliens applying for immigration and naturalization benefits, focusing on: (1) INS efforts to ensure that the fingerprints aliens submit are their own; (2) options INS considered to improve the fingerprinting process; (3) the future impact of automated fingerprinting identification systems; (4) INS efforts to ensure timely mailing of fingerprint cards to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and timely filing of FBI criminal history reports; and (5) INS actions to follow up on fingerprint cards rejected because of illegibility or incomplete information.

GAO found that: (1) INS plans to implement a certification and training program in 1995 for fingerprint providers and establish fingerprinting procedures to improve control over the fingerprinting process; (2) INS plans to monitor fingerprint providers at least every 3 years to ensure that they follow established procedures; (3) INS has decided not to have district offices do the fingerprinting due to a lack of resources and potential overcrowding at the offices; (4) INS has also rejected the option of having contractors, police departments, and volunteer groups do the fingerprinting; (5) INS plans to use a FBI-developed automated fingerprint identification system to electronically transmit information and reduce processing time; (6) INS has instructed district directors to correct problems with the mailing of fingerprint cards to FBI, filing FBI criminal history reports, and resubmission of rejected fingerprint cards, but it has not monitored the districts' progress in correcting these problems; (7) INS examiners sometimes approve an alien's application without a criminal history check because they assume one has been done even if it is not in the alien's file; and (8) INS examiners sometimes cannot determine if FBI fingerprint checks have been completed because FBI only returns reports when criminal histories are found.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: INS' Office of Internal Audit will start monitoring district office compliance.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to monitor progress to ensure that districts comply with INS headquarters directives to submit fingerprint cards to the FBI on a timely basis, file FBI arrest reports in aliens' files immediately, and submit new fingerprint cards to replace those that are rejected by the FBI.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: INS is ensuring that all of the results of fingerprint checks will be available to examiners.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to obtain the results from the FBI of all its record and fingerprint checks, including those aliens who do not have criminal history records, and make the results available to the examiners before the aliens' hearings.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 26, 2018

Sep 5, 2018

Jul 18, 2018

Jul 16, 2018

Jun 27, 2018

May 31, 2018

May 17, 2018

Apr 18, 2018

Apr 12, 2018

Looking for more? Browse all our products here