United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) Program

 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has the vital mission to secure the nation from various threats. One of its vital mechanisms is the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) Program. 

 

The program was created after 9/11 to establish an automated entry/exit system to track non-citizens travel into and exit from the U.S. Its mission is to collect, maintain, and share information, including biometric identifiers through a dynamic system on foreign nationals to determine whether the individual:

  • Should be prohibited from entering the U.S.
  • Can receive, extend, change, or adjust immigration status
  • Has overstayed their visa, and/or
  • Needs special protection/attention (i.e., refugees), and

Enhance traffic flow for individuals entering or exiting the U.S. for legitimate purpose by:

  • Facilitating travel and commerce
  • Respecting the environment
  • Strengthening international cooperation, and
  • Respecting privacy laws and policies

Ideal Innovations, Inc. (I3) is currently providing analysts and Subject Matter Experts (SME) to support several elements of this program. Under the current contract, I3 provides seven research analysts and one SME to assist the Overstay Analyst Unit (formerly known as Data Integrity Group) in manually validating overstay violators to prevent them from entering the U.S., obtaining a VISA, or receiving benefits. Another I3 team of five analysts and one SME is supporting the Watchlist Adjudication section that review traveler’s criminal records to determine if the violation denies or permits the subject from entering the country. In both sections, I3 staff has the burden to accurately and expeditiously process identified violators in order to meet the DHS’s mission of securing the nation.

Background

The US-VISIT program was established in 2003 and has two key technology systems that meet its mission. The Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IDENT) captures the biometric information of the traveler and the Arrival Departure Information System (ADIS) that stores biographical information including travel history of the subject. Both systems were created to share its data with other agencies. In April 2013, DHS implemented an Executive Order to streamline processes and reduce cost. As the result, ADIS is now managed by the Customs Border Protection agency and IDENT is managed by Office of Biometric Information Management, a new DHS unit.

Overstay Support

The I3 research analyst team's primary mission is to manually review the record of each traveler that was identified by the ADIS as a potential overstay violator. The analysts first identify all variation of the traveler’s name, date of birth, passport number, and other identifiers. Then, using approximately 15 Federal and commercial systems, the analyst finds any information of departure or status change that may clear and close the record. If no information is found, the analyst submits the record as a confirmed overstay violator to the government supervisor for approval. If any subject is determined to be still in the country, the record is sent to the Immigration Custom Enforcement for legal action. If the subject has already departed, the subject’s record will have a warning notification attached to identify the violation.

Since the beginning of this contract a little over three years ago, the I3 analyst team has continuously performed above and beyond the requirement established by our customers. The team is now 15 % of total contracting and government analyst workforce, yet consistently capturing 50% of the weekly Top Producer awards. In 2013, the overstay team increased their productivity, and for the past 12 consecutive weeks, three out of four (or 75%) of the weekly awards are given to I3 analysts. Additionally, I3 analysts often receive assignments and tasks that are not normally assigned to contractors. These ad-hoc assignments are part of special study or tasked to reduce backlog. The I3 analysts have gained confidence from our customers and continuously demonstrate that they are trustworthy, reliable, and diligent.

Unlike the analysts, the overstay I3 SME is assigned to support the unit’s Quality Assurance section and holds the responsibility to identify production weaknesses, analyze data, and improve processes. In mid-2012, the SME took over a challenging task of compiling month production data to create a report. Prior to taking over the task, the predecessor always delivered the report late with inaccurate data and often did not meet the customer’s requirement. After months of analysis, the SME identified numerous processes that hindered the timely delivery of the data. The entire data collection and report writing was improved through development of enhanced databases, standardization, and shorter but more effective data processing. These actions helped to improve data collection and deliver the monthly report days ahead of schedule. Furthermore, the SME has discovered that many of the existing Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) documents lacked critical information that described the objective of the process. Several new comprehensive SOPs were developed by the SME that holistically captured many business processes.

Watchlist Support

Like the Overstay unit, the Watchlist research analysts also scrutinize records to validate travelers, but their main mission is to determine if a traveler, who has a criminal offense or conviction, should either remain in the Watchlist to prohibit re-entry or to be removed from the list and be permitted to enter the United States. Watchlist analysts have the responsibility to research various law enforcement systems and identify the exact violation committed by the traveler. Accuracy is critical, as it determines if the violator has committed a crime serious enough to warrant being banned from entering. Although the I3 staff in the Watchlist group is small, they consistently capture 30% of the weekly top production award.

The Watchlist SME has dual responsibilities overarching both the adjudication of every record produced by the contractors, and conducting research analysis training to every new staff member. The SME, possessing extensive knowledge and field experience in immigration, gives critical advice to both analysts and government staff. Legal and technical jargons are customarily used in most of the reports encountered by the analysts during their research. The expertise of the SME is constantly employed to provide legal term clarifications and directions that will help the analysts to correctly recognize the violation and make the necessary recommendation of action against the subject.