State Department:

Efforts to Reduce Visa Fraud

T-NSIAD-97-167: Published: May 20, 1997. Publicly Released: May 20, 1997.

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Benjamin F. Nelson
(202) 512-4128


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

GAO discussed its 1996 report on the Department of State's progress in making its visa issuance process more efficient and less vulnerable to fraud.

GAO noted that: (1) at the time of GAO's review, State's strategy for reducing the potential for visa fraud was to: (a) issue visas that are machine readable; (b) expand automated name-check capability to all posts; (c) form so-called "lookout" committees to identify suspected terrorists and others ineligible for visas; and (d) strengthen compliance with management controls; (2) after assessing State's progress on these key initiatives, GAO found mixed results; (3) while the automation initiative had progressed after some delay, operational problems at some locations diminished the effectiveness of these efforts; (4) these include: (a) technical problems that limited the availability and usefulness of the automated data base; (b) inadequate cooperation by some key U.S. agencies in State's lookout committees; and (c) lack of compliance with management control procedures; and (5) while State has continued to move forward in automating its visa-issuance process, a recent report by State's Inspector General concluded that many problems still exist.

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