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Homeland Security


The Immigration and Naturalization Service's Contacts With Two September 11 Terrorists:

A Review of the INS's Admissions of Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, its Processing of their Change of Status Applications, and its Efforts to Track Foreign Students in the United States

U.S. Department of Justice
Office of the Inspector General

May 20, 2002



TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRESS RELEASE

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

  1. Introduction
  2. Organization of the Report

CHAPTER TWO: BACKGROUND

  1. Organizational Structure of the INS
  2. Visitor Visas
    1. Entrance of nonimmigrants into the United States
    2. Description of visitor visa classifications
    3. Length of stay permitted by the visitor visa
      1. Period of validity of the visa
      2. Length of admission under the B-1/B-2 classification
  3. Foreign Students

CHAPTER THREE: ATTA'S AND ALSHEHHI'S ENTRIES INTO THE UNITED STATES

  1. Introduction
  2. The Inspection Process
    1. The primary inspection process
    2. The secondary inspection process
  3. Atta's Entries into the United States
    1. Atta's first entry - June 3, 2000, Newark, New Jersey
    2. Atta's second entry - January 10, 2001, Miami, Florida
      1. Processing Atta at the POE
      2. OIG analysis
      3. Effect of departure while change of status application is pending
      4. Atta's length of admission
    3. Atta's third entry - July 19, 2001, Miami, Florida
  4. Alshehhi's Entries into the United States
    1. Alshehhi's first entry - May 29, 2000, Newark, New Jersey
    2. Alshehhi's second entry - January 18, 2001, New York, New York
    3. Alshehhi's third entry - May 2, 2001, Miami, Florida
  5. OIG Conclusions on the INS's Admission of Atta and Alshehhi

CHAPTER FOUR: THE INS'S DELAYED PROCESSING OF ATTA'S AND ALSHEHHI'S APPLICATIONS FOR CHANGE OF STATUS

  1. Introduction
  2. Process to Obtain Nonimmigrant Student Status
  3. Huffman Aviation's Initiation of Atta's and Alshehhi's Applications for Change of Status
  4. Processing at the Texas Service Center
    1. INS service center organization and mission
    2. Processing and adjudication of I-539 applications for change of status
      1. Pre-adjudication processing
      2. The adjudication process
    3. The TSC did not adjudicate Atta's And Alshehhi's I-539 applications in a timely manner
      1. RAFACS history for Atta's I-539 application
      2. RAFACS history for Alshehhi's I-539 application
      3. Backlogs at the TSC
      4. Delay in the transmission of the school I-20 form to ACS
  5. ACS's Processing of the School Copies of Atta's and Alshehhi's I-20 Forms
    1. ACS contract to process INS immigration forms
    2. How ACS processes I-20 forms
    3. The mailing of Atta's and Alshehhi's I-20s to Huffman Aviation
    4. OIG's analysis of ACS's processing of the I-20s
      1. Atta's and Alshehhi's I-20s were handled in the same manner as other I-20s received by ACS at the time
        1. Atta's I-20
        2. Alshehhi's I-20
      2. The contract requirements for handling I-20s after processing
  6. OIG Conclusions Regarding the Delay in Sending the I-20 Forms to Huffman Aviation
  7. Adjudication of Atta's and Alshehhi's I-539s
    1. Requirements for approval for I-539 change of status
      1. Signature requirement
      2. Proof that applicant timely filed the application
      3. Evidence requirement
    2. Length of stay for nonimmigrant vocational students
    3. Information that could have affected the adjudication
      1. Completion of the course by Atta and Alshehhi on December 19, 2000
      2. Lack of sufficient hours for "full course of study"
      3. Departures by Atta and Alshehhi while their I-539 applications were pending
    4. Production pressures and the I-539
    5. OIG conclusions regarding the adjudication of Atta's and Alshehhi's change of status applications

CHAPTER FIVE: THE INS'S FAILURE TO STOP DELIVERY OF THE I-20S TO HUFFMAN AVIATION

  1. Introduction
  2. Actions of ACS and INS Employees
    1. Actions of ACS
    2. Actions of ACS and INS Employees
      1. Retrieval of the Atta and Alshehhi files at the TSC
      2. Actions taken by TSC and INS Headquarters managers
      3. Reasons TSC and Immigration Services Division personnel did not stop the I-20s before they were mailed to Huffman Aviation
        1. TSC personnel
        2. Immigration Services Division managers
      4. OIG analysis
    3. Actions of INS Headquarters Enforcement Division personnel
      1. Organization of Enforcement Division
      2. Events at INS Headquarters on and around September 11
      3. Enforcement Division requests for information and the handling of Atta's and Alshehhi's files
      4. Reasons stated by Enforcement personnel for not asking for all INS records or files related to the terrorists
      5. OIG analysis
  3. The INS's Response to OIG Criticism

CHAPTER SIX: THE INS'S FOREIGN STUDENT PROGRAM

  1. Introduction
  2. Background
    1. Scope and methodology of review
    2. Statistics on student visas
    3. The student visa application process
  3. Deficiencies in the Foreign Student Program
    1. Inadequacies in the INS's process for approving schools
      1. Legal requirements for schools to be certified to accept foreign students
      2. The I-17 petition and the INS's certification process
      3. Inadequate resources devoted to school approval process
      4. Lack of in-person interviews and site visits prior to approval
      5. Lack of re-certifications
      6. Review of Huffman Aviation file
    2. Lack of security features on I-20 forms
    3. Inadequacies in collecting information concerning student status
    4. Deficiencies in the Student and Schools System (STSC) database
    5. Lack of enforcement
    6. Lack of training for designated school officials and INS schools officers
  4. Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS)
    1. History of SEVIS
    2. How SEVIS will work
      1. Data to be collected in SEVIS concerning foreign students and exchange visitors
      2. Data to be collected concerning schools
      3. SEVIS procedures
        1. School certifications
        2. Issuance of I-20 to foreign student
        3. State Department access to SEVIS
        4. Inspectors' access to SEVIS and updating of student's record that student has entered the country
        5. Updating of student's record once student enrolls in school
    3. Schedule for implementation
  5. OIG analysis of SEVIS
    1. Deficiencies that SEVIS will address
      1. Improved data collection
      2. Improving fraud detection and deterrence
    2. Deficiencies SEVIS will not address
    3. SEVIS implementation difficulties
      1. Ensuring that approved schools are re-certified prior to the January 30, 2003, implementation deadline
      2. Collecting the processing fee as required by statute
  6. Conclusion

CHAPTER SEVEN: THE INS'S PROPOSED CHANGES REGARDING FOREIGN STUDENTS

  1. Introduction
  2. Proposed Processing Changes
    1. Processing the student copy of the I-20
    2. Database checks before I-539s are adjudicated
      1. Check of NIIS database
      2. Check of the Interagency Border Inspection System
      3. Performance standards for CAOs
  3. Proposed regulatory changes
    1. Proposed change: Aliens who enter the country without a student visa may not begin a course of study until their I-539 petition for change of status to student has been adjudicated favorably.
    2. Proposed change: A visitor entering the country must articulate reasons that would support a length of stay longer than 30 days, and if the visitor cannot the default admission period will be 30 days.
    3. Proposed change: Require prospective foreign students to demonstrate their intent to attend school at the time they are admitted on a B-1/B-2 visa in order to be eligible later to seek a change of status to F-1 or M-1.
    4. Proposed change: Require flight schools to initiate background and fingerprint checks when a student seeks to learn how to fly a plane over 12,500 pounds.

CHAPTER EIGHT: RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Introduction
  2. Recommendations
    1. Management of the foreign student program
    2. Recommendations that affect all foreign students
      1. Implementation of SEVIS
      2. Defining "prospective student"
      3. Capturing information about part-time students
    3. Recommendations that affect nonimmigrants who wish to change their status to that of a student
      1. Adequate resources to ensure processing of I-539 applications in 30 days
      2. IBIS checks
    4. Recommendations that affect immigration inspectors
      1. Abandonment of I-539 applications
      2. I-193 waivers
    5. General recommendations
      1. Performance standards for CAOs
      2. INS policies

CHAPTER NINE: CONCLUSION

APPENDIX:



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