United Kingdom July 1, 1988
Japan December 15, 1988
France* July 1, 1989
Switzerland* July 1, 1989
Germany July 15, 1989
Sweden July 15, 1989
Italy* July 29, 1989
Netherlands July 29, 1989
Andorra October 1, 1991
Austria October 1, 1991
Belgium* October 1, 1991
Denmark October 1, 1991
Finland October 1, 1991
Iceland* October 1, 1991
Liechtenstein* October 1, 1991
Luxembourg* October 1, 1991
Monaco* October 1, 1991
New Zealand October 1, 1991
Norway+ October 1, 1991
San Marino* October 1, 1991
Spain October 1, 1991
Brunei July 29, 1993
Ireland April 1, 1995
Argentina July 8, 1996
Australia July 29, 1996
Slovenia September 30, 1997

*Countries that did not have machine-readable passports during some or all of our review period. (Luxembourg began issuing machine-readable passports on January 29, 1998, and Italy began issuing machine-readable passports on April 15, 1998.)

+Although Norway issues passport which meet the requirements of machine-readability, it does not include necessary information in the machine-readable portion of the passport.





The following provides brief descriptions of key automated systems used by Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) inspectors. Not all systems are specifically referenced in the text of this report.

Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS): The joint effort by the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Customs Service (Customs), and INS to more effectively facilitate and control entry of persons at U.S. borders. It is a computerized system that interfaces with the following support systems:

Nonimmigrant Information System (NIIS): The mainframe system that stores records of and provides a means to track arrivals and departures of nonimmigrant foreign nationals.

Record of Intercepted Passenger System (RIPS): Stand-alone PC databases at ports of entry used by INS to collect information on aliens excluded from entry into the United States at that port. The data from each port of entry is sent to headquarters for enforcement reporting.





Overall Inspection Methodology

In the course of our inspection, we collected data from various sources regarding the Visa Waiver Pilot Program (VWPP). At the Forensic Document Lab (FDL), we interviewed staff members and collected intelligence reports and information on stolen VWPP passports. We contacted the members of the VWPP interagency working group chaired by the Executive Office for National Security. We interviewed individuals from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The offices with whom we spoke included the Inspections Division, Intelligence, the Counterterrorism Task Force, the LookOut Unit, and the Carrier Affairs Office. In addition, we interviewed an official from the U.S. Department of State Intelligence and Research Division.

We made site visits to ports of entry from April 1998 to July 1998, focusing on ports with high volumes of VWPP passengers and ports which were recommended by high-ranking INS officials: Dulles International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Miami International Airport, and Honolulu International Airport. At each port, we interviewed key officials, observed inspection procedures, reviewed files, extracted records from databases, and collected information about training, intelligence, and passenger analysis activities.

Methodology for Stolen Passport Sample

We collected records of stolen VWPP passports which were reported to the FDL between 1990 and February 1998 (the date of our visit to the FDL).31   From this information, we selected countries for which the FDL had issued at least one alert since their inclusion in the VWPP.32   Ten countries met this criteria: Belgium, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

We then created a spreadsheet that listed all the stolen passport numbers, the countries of issuance, the dates of theft (if known), and the dates INS received the theft reports (if known). The universe from which we pulled our sample consisted of 61,836 passports. We determined our sample size by calculating a confidence level of 95 percent; a precision level of 3 percent; and an estimated error rate of +/- 5 percent. This formula generated a sample size of 1,067 passports. We used a computer program to randomly select the 1,067 passports tested in our sample.

We checked the 1,067 stolen passports against the Nonimmigrant Information System in order to determine how many of them had been used to enter the United States. We also checked the stolen passports against the lookout system in order to see if lookout records had been created, and if so, when lookout records were created.













On January 6, 1999, the Inspections Division sent copies of the draft report to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) with a request for written comments. INS responded by memorandum from the Commissioner dated March 26, 1999 (APPENDIX IV).

We recognize that there are serious substantive issues related to the Visa Waiver Pilot Program (VWPP) that are beyond INS's control and we share the concerns expressed by INS. Nonetheless, in the context of its role of administering the VWPP, INS has clear responsibilities that it must meet. Based on the results of our review, we believe our recommendations have the potential to significantly improve the INS's enforcement efforts related to VWPP applicants.

INS concurred or concurred in part with all three recommendations. For each recommendation, INS proposed corrective actions that are fully responsive.

Recommendation Number:

  1. Resolved-Open. INS agreed with our recommendation to modify primary inspection policy to ensure that the passport number of each VWPP applicant is checked against the lookout system. INS's response is that the Headquarters Office of Field Operations (HQOPS), Inspections Branch, will send guidance to the field by the end of the Fiscal Year 1999 (FY 1999) to comply with the recommendation. Further, INS will extend the guidance to all applicants for admission, not just VWPP applicants, to optimize the lookout database searches and enhance enforcement efforts.

We agree with INS that all countries in the VWPP should be required to issue machine-readable passports as soon as possible. We support any actions that reduce the manual query of passport numbers and increase the electronic query of the passport numbers. This will save time for INS inspectors, improve accuracy and reduce the operational burden that the VWPP places on INS.

Please provide us an interim status report on the completion of the proposed guidance by July 15, 1999.

  1. Resolved-Open. INS agreed with our recommendation to designate a unit to systematically collect information on stolen blank VWPP passports and ensure timely and accurate entry of stolen passport numbers into the lookout system. INS's response is that HQOPS will meet with members of its Inspections Branch, Office of Intelligence, and Lookout Unit to determine the most effective method to complete this task. It is expected to be completed and implemented by the end of FY 1999.

Please provide us an interim status report on the designation of a unit responsible for actions on stolen blank VWPP passports by July 15, 1999.

  1. Resolved-Open. INS agreed with our recommendation to develop clear guidelines for the entry of passport numbers when creating lookout records. INS's response is that the guidelines will be developed and implemented in conjunction with its response to recommendation 2 and also will be completed by the end of FY 1999.

INS's concern that blank, unissued VWPP passports of some countries contain a serial number rather than a passport number is a problem for only a few of the VWPP countries. Most of the VWPP countries that have known problems with blank passports being stolen do contain passport numbers and can be successfully queried against the lookout system.

Please provide us an interim status report on the development of guidelines for the entry of passport numbers when creating lookout records by July 15, 1999.


30 The U.S. Department of State has proposed nomination of four additional VWPP countries: Greece, Portugal, Singapore, and Uruguay.

31 Some countries are reluctant to inform INS of passport thefts, making it impossible to quantify the number of all stolen VWPP passports. Therefore, our sample universe includes only the number of reported stolen passports.

32 An alert is written to warn INS field personnel of new patterns in counterfeit and stolen passports.