INS Fingerprinting of Aliens

Efforts to Ensure Authenticity of Aliens' Fingerprints Gao ID: GGD-95-40 December 22, 1994

This report examines the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) fingerprinting procedures for aliens applying for benefits such as permanent residency and naturalization. GAO discusses what actions INS has taken in response to the findings of a February 1994 report by the Justice Department Office of Inspector General. GAO evaluates (1) changes INS took or planned to take to ensure that the fingerprints aliens submit to INS are their own, including the options that INS considered to improve the integrity of the fingerprint process and the future impact of automated fingerprinting identification systems; (2) steps INS had taken to ensure prompt mailing of fingerprint cards to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and timely filing of criminal history reports from the FBI; and (3) how INS followed up on fingerprint cards rejected by the FBI because of illegibility or incomplete information.

GAO found that: (1) INS plans to implement a certification and training program in 1995 for fingerprint providers and establish fingerprinting procedures to improve control over the fingerprinting process; (2) INS plans to monitor fingerprint providers at least every 3 years to ensure that they follow established procedures; (3) INS has decided not to have district offices do the fingerprinting due to a lack of resources and potential overcrowding at the offices; (4) INS has also rejected the option of having contractors, police departments, and volunteer groups do the fingerprinting; (5) INS plans to use a FBI-developed automated fingerprint identification system to electronically transmit information and reduce processing time; (6) INS has instructed district directors to correct problems with the mailing of fingerprint cards to FBI, filing FBI criminal history reports, and resubmission of rejected fingerprint cards, but it has not monitored the districts' progress in correcting these problems; (7) INS examiners sometimes approve an alien's application without a criminal history check because they assume one has been done even if it is not in the alien's file; and (8) INS examiners sometimes cannot determine if FBI fingerprint checks have been completed because FBI only returns reports when criminal histories are found.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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