Since 1940, Congress has provided a statutory framework that requires aliens entering or residing in the United States to provide address information. By 1981, aliens who remain in the United States for 30 days or more were required to initially register and report their address information and then to report their change of address only if they move. In the months immediately following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, federal investigators' efforts to locate and interview nearly one-half of the 4,112 nonimmigrant aliens they attempted to contact were impeded by lack of current address information. Nonimmigrant aliens are defined as those who seek temporary entry into the United States for a specific purpose, including those aliens who are in the country as students, international representatives, or temporary workers, or for business or pleasure. Because of growing concern over the government's need to locate aliens, the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 directed GAO to study the feasibility and the utility of a requirement that each nonimmigrant alien in the United States self-report a current address on a yearly basis.
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