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Immigration and Naturalization Service's Premium Processing Program

Report No. 03-14
February 2003
Office of the Inspector General



1989 IBIS was established as a multi-agency database of lookout information to improve border enforcement and facilitate inspections of individuals applying for admission to the U.S. at ports of entry and pre-inspection facilities.
1999 The VSC and the TSC experiment with IBIS software and adjudications on a limited basis.
July 31, 2001 The INS Office of Programs issues a memorandum to Office of Field Operations formally establishing the INS's policy concerning the usage of IBIS. Data in IBIS is "Law Enforcement Sensitive." Access to IBIS data is granted on a need-to-know basis. All IBIS users must be certified through an online security certification test and must be re-certified every two years.
August 6, 2001 The July 31 memorandum is forwarded to all Regional Directors (but not Service Center Directors).
August 21, 2001 Installation of IBIS hardware and software is completed at the service centers. INS Office of Programs informs the Office of Field Operations that IBIS checks are mandated for Forms I-485, I-90, I-821, and I-765, filed by asylum seekers. Development of a national IBIS Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) manual is initiated. Once complete, the SOP will provide guidance for service centers and field offices on the utilization of IBIS checks in the adjudication process.
September 5, 2001 The INS Office of Field Operations issues a transmittal notice to the Regional Directors advising that IBIS checks could begin on the forms listed in the August 21 memo. The notice states that IBIS checks are to be conducted on the applicant or principal beneficiary and the names of any spouse and children who may derive status through their relationship to that applicant or principal beneficiary. The automated IBIS checks will formally replace the Service Lookout Book checks previously made.
September 28, 2001 The ISD issues a memorandum stating that the utilization of the NCIC database is authorized only for law enforcement purposes, including active criminal cases, custody cases, and targets of investigation.
November 15, 2001 The September 5 and August 21 memos (above) are forwarded to all Service Center Directors. The service centers are directed to perform IBIS checks on the same petitions and applications as described in the August 21, 2001, guidance.
December 6, 2001 The INS Office of Programs issues a request to the Office of General Counsel for an expedited resolution of legal questions on the use of IBIS in processing applications and petitions for Immigration benefits. The stated issues included the use of IBIS information in processing benefit applications and petitions; the use of third party information in the course of making a determination on an application for immigration benefits; forwarding cases with IBIS hits to Investigations for action; and sharing IBIS hits with another Law Enforcement agency, without a biometrics match.
January 28, 2002 The Adjudicator's Field Manual is amended to require IBIS checks on all applications and petitions.
March 4, 2002 A memorandum from the Acting Assistant Attorney General for Administration bans non-U.S. citizens from accessing Department of Justice Information Technology systems unless certain waivers are issued.
March 18, 2002 A memorandum regarding Enhanced Processing Instructions from the INS Office of Field Operations is distributed to the Regional Directors and the ISD. The memorandum is to reinforce certain required procedures when processing applications for benefits. All applications for change of nonimmigrant status (i.e., Forms I-539, I-129) must be checked against the NIIS immediately before a final decision is rendered on the application. Note: Now the Forms I-129 are to be NIIS checked.
April 1, 2002 Directives are issued regarding IBIS checks at air and sea ports of entry.A memorandum is sent to Executive Associate Commissioner, Office of Field Operations, from the Director of the Central Region regarding systemic vulnerabilities in the IBIS check process. Issues include software glitches that result in some petitions and applications not being checked in IBIS, and the lack of interconnectivity among various computer systems used by the INS, including IBIS.
April 3, 2002 A memorandum from the Office of Field of Operations states that IBIS queries will continue to be conducted for all applicants for admission at sea ports of entry when manifests are received in advance of arrival and at sea ports of entry at those locations with dedicated Federal Inspection Sites (airport type facilities).
July 2, 2002 An IBIS guidance memorandum is issued by the Office of Field Operations to all Regional Directors; Deputy Executive Associate Commissioner, Immigration Services Division; and the Acting Director, Office of International Affairs. The memorandum supplements previously issued memoranda (listed therein) and provides procedural details for conducting IBIS checks and for resolving subsequent hits.