Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 03120141 (posted Dec. 1, 2003)"
DHS Issues a Fact Sheet, FAQs, and Press Release on Changes to the NSEERS ProgramThe DHS fact sheet, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and press release provide detailed information regarding the specific changes to the Special Registration program (NSEERS) expected to become effective on 12/02/03 upon publication in the Federal Register.DHS Fact Sheet
Department of Homeland Security - Fact Sheet
CHANGES TO NATIONAL SECURITY ENTRY/EXIT REGISTRATION SYSTEM
The Department of Homeland Security has decided to suspend the National
Security Entry/Exit Registration System (NSEERS) re-registration requirement
that mandated aliens to re-register after 30-days and one year of continuous
presence in the United States. The new process is outlined in the interim
rule published in the Federal Register.
NSEERS established a national registry for temporary foreign visitors
(non-immigrant aliens) arriving from certain countries, or who meet a
combination of intelligence-based criteria, and are identified as presenting an
elevated national security concern. The program has collected detailed
information about the background and purpose of an individual’s visit to the
United States, the periodic verification of their location and activities, and
departure confirmation. NSEERS was the first step taken by the Department of
Justice and then DHS in order to comply with the development of the
Congressionally- mandated requirement for a comprehensive entry-exit program by
The domestic registration program included citizens or nationals from
Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran,
Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan,
Qatar, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and
Yemen. However, to date, individuals from more than 150 countries have
been registered in the NSEERS program.
Most of the foreign visitors registered are students, individuals in the U.S.
on extended business travel, or individuals visiting family members for lengthy
periods. The requirement to register does not apply to U.S. citizens, lawful
permanent residents (green card holders), refugees, asylum applicants, asylum
grantees, and diplomats or others admitted under "A" or "G" visas.
At the time of initial registration, all individuals were given instructions
that they had to re-register in one year, or after thirty days if initially
registered at a port-of-entry. The numbers who were to re-register were
expected to vary from last year because some individuals may have left the
country; traveled outside and back into the country (changing their one-year
anniversary date to the most recent entry registration date); or adjusted their
status, eliminating the need for re-registration.
Previous Re-Registration Requirements:
- All individuals registered under NSEERS were required to re-register after
thirty days if initially registered at a port-of-entry, and annually if they are
remaining in the United States past one year. This notice was given to
individuals at the time of registration, either at a designated port of entry or
a Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services office.
- The annual anniversary date for re-registration is based on the last time
that an individual registered.
- The annual interview requirements of those individuals subject to the first
call-in registration, which began on November 15, 2002, began November 5,
- The annual interviews of those individuals who registered at a port of
entry, beginning September 11, 2002, began on the one-year anniversary of their
date of registration.
- Individuals have a ten-day window in which to show up for their annual
interview. In other words, they can report for their interview within ten
days after their anniversary date.
- Those individuals required to report for their yearly interview were
expected to return to the same office at which they registered last year.
If they had moved, they would go to the nearest ICE or CIS office or
sub-office. The willful failure to do so is a criminal violation of the
Immigration and Nationality Act, and the willful failure to register also would
render an alien deportable.
- The NSEERS program is a valuable first step towards a more comprehensive
entry-exit system – US-VISIT. Congress mandated that a comprehensive
entry-exit program be developed by 2005.
Changes Made By the New Rule:
- There will no longer be a 30-day or one-year re-registration requirement,
effective with the publishing of the new rule in the Federal Register.
- In place of the previous requirement, the new rule will allow DHS, as a
matter of discretion, to notify individual nonimmigrant aliens subject to NSEERS
registration to appear for one or more additional continuing registration
interviews in those particular cases where it may be necessary to determine
whether the alien is complying with the conditions of his or her nonimmigrant
visa status and admission.
- The rule also provides that when an alien who is monitored under Student and
Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) notifies DHS of a change of address
or change of educational institution through SEVIS, it also constitutes a
notification for the purposes of NSEERS registration.
- On September 11, 2002, the U.S. began implementation of NSEERS at U.S. ports
of entry. On November 5, 2002, the domestic call-in registration began. Congress
required the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to implement a
comprehensive entry-exit program in 1996. That system must be in place by
2005. NSEERS is the first step in fulfilling that Congressional
- NSEERS promotes several important national security objectives:
(1) NSEERS allows the United States to run the fingerprints of aliens who
may present elevated national security concerns against a database of wanted
criminals and known terrorists;
(2) NSEERS enables DHS to determine
instantly when such an alien has overstayed his visa, which was the case with
three of the 9/11 hijackers);
(3) NSEERS enables DHS to verify that an alien
in the United States on a temporary visa is doing what he said he would be
doing, and living where he said he would live.
- The countries prioritized for special registration were selected
(1) All of these countries are places where Al-Qaeda or other terrorist
organizations have been active, or where the United States has other national
(2) This was not an exclusive list—all
non-immigrant visitors from other countries eventually will be included as the
US-VISIT program is implemented.
NSEERS General Information:
- The majority of those required to register under NSEERS complied and
fulfilled this requirement successfully. It is the individual’s
responsibility to comply with US immigration law and maintain legal status while
in the United States.
- There were a small number of individuals who temporarily were kept in
detention while they were processed for immigration violations during the
domestic enrollment portion of the program.
- As of September 30, 2003, individuals from 150 countries have complied with
the NSEERS registration requirements for a total of 290,526 registrations, which
includes those registering both at Ports-of-Entry (POEs) and the former INS
district offices nationwide. The registrations performed are broken down
in the following way: 207,007 registrations (93,741 individuals) at the POEs,
and 83,519 individuals at the former INS offices.
- NSEERS requirements applied only to certain non-immigrant aliens.
These requirements do NOT include U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents
(green card holders), refugees, asylum applicants (who filed before November 22,
2002), asylum grantees, and diplomats or others admitted under A or G
- European countries have had similar registration systems in place for
NSEERS Statistics Through September 30, 2003:
Total Number of Registrations: 290,526
Total Number of Individuals
Total Port of Entry
Number of Individuals: 93,741
Total Domestic Registrations: 83,519
Referred to Investigation
Notices to Appear Issued: 13,799
Number Detained: 2,870
Total Number In Custody: 23
Total Number of
Department of Homeland Security - FAQ
December 1, 2003
CHANGES TO THE NSEERS PROCESS
What is being announced?
The Department of Homeland Security has suspended the 30-day and annual
interview requirements from the special registration process for certain
non-immigrants. An interim rule will be published in the Federal Register
on December 2, 2003, which provides for a 60-day public comment period.
Was this decision made as a result of recent public pressure?
No. DHS have been reviewing NSEERS information for the past few months
to determine if NSEERS is being executed in the most productive and effective
manner, or if it needs to be changed given that the Student and Exchange Visitor
Information System (SEVIS), US-VISIT, and other databases are available now but
were not available at the inception of NSEERS.
continue with any NSEERS activities--you haven't caught any terrorists and you
have just upset thousands of people based on their race and religion?
We have caught suspected terrorists under NSEERS. While they may
not be charged with terrorism grounds of inadmissibility or removability, that
is not an indication of whether terrorists were caught. A
non-immigrant visitor who overstays a visa, is present without inspection,
commits a crime or fraud is just as removable under those grounds as terrorism
grounds. NSEERS never was based on race nor religion.
Non-immigrant visitors from 150 countries have complied with NSEERS
Will re-registration be discontinued?
In place of the previous requirement, the new rule will allow DHS, as a
matter of discretion, to notify individual nonimmigrant visitors subject to
NSEERS registration to appear for one or more additional continuing registration
interviews in those particular cases where it may be necessary to determine
whether the visitor is complying with the conditions of his or her nonimmigrant
visa status and admission.
Will anyone who needed to re-register be penalized if they did not do
Re-registering with DHS is a condition for maintaining legal non-immigrant
status in the U.S.. Failing to re-register is a failure to comply with the
terms of a non-immigrant admission, making a person removable.
it fair that some of the walk-in registrants have to re-register under the
threat of breaking the law when others whose one year anniversary that falls
later won't have to do so and are not threatened as a result?
Whenever a law or regulation is changed, it affects the activity required by
people to be in compliance with the law; changing registration requirements is
not unique in that regard. DHS will continue to have the ability to
require visitors to check in periodically with the department and will need to
use that tool on occasion so some visitors who are currently scheduled to
re-register in April may still be asked to do so individually even after the new
regulation eliminates the group re-registration
Why hasn't DHS publicized the need to
re-register up till now?
Individuals were provided information at the time of their initial
registration and any subsequent registration, such as at a port-of-entry when
returning from a trip out of the U.S., notifying them of the requirement to
What will replace NSEERS in the future?
SEVIS is now operating and US-VISIT will begin soon. These two
programs take care of most of the NSEERS requirements. NSEERS
was intended to be the first step towards a full entry-exit program.
With US-VISIT starting in January, we will be making our transition away from
NSEERS, as intended.
Is the announcement an
acknowledgement that NSEERS was a failure?
No. NSEERS registration and departure procedures have proven
valuable. DHS will continue to record non-immigrant visitors’ entry to and
exit from the U.S. in US-VISIT. With respect to having non-immigrant
visitors register periodically while in the U.S., DHS will continue to have that
ability for those non-immigrant visitors that warrant continued verification of
compliance with the terms of their admission.
DHS Press Release
Department of Homeland Security - Press Release
Contact: 202 282-8010
NSEERS 30-DAY AND ANNUAL INTERVIEW REQUIREMENTS TO BE
The Department of Homeland Security today announced that it will suspend the
formal requirement for individuals previously registered in the National
Security Entry/Exit Registration System (NSEERS) to re-register after 30-days
and one year of continuous presence in the United States. The interim rule
outlining the new procedures will take effect immediately with publication in
the Federal Register, and allows for a 60-day public comment period.
This decision to suspend the requirement was made after careful review of the
NSEERS program by DHS. Although the program has proven valuable, the
Department of Justice, which originally established NSEERS, always intended the
program to be an initial step towards a full entry-exit system. DHS
is preparing to institute a new program, US-VISIT, at the end of this year that
when fully implemented, will collect information and biometric identifiers from
most visitors to the U.S., and record their departure. The Department has
determined that US-VISIT and other new processes being implemented will meet the
national security needs that NSEERS previously fulfilled.
“Today’s announcement that the domestic NSEERS interview requirement will be
phased out is another important step forward by the Department of Homeland
Security to maintain the integrity and security of our nation’s immigration
systems,” said Asa Hutchinson, Undersecretary for Border and Transportation
Security in the Department of Homeland Security. “This change will allow
us to focus our efforts on the implementation of US-VISIT while preserving our
ability to interview some visitors when necessary.”
Although certain visitors may still be registered at their time of arrival at
U.S. ports-of-entry, there will no longer be a mandatory requirement for all
persons registered to report for interviews as was previously required, once the
new policy is fully implemented.
NSEERS registration and departure procedures have been successful in meeting
national security needs. More than 13,800 persons with suspected
immigration status violations have been identified and referred to immigration
courts for hearings, and several individuals with possible terrorist links have
been denied entry into the U.S. DHS will continue to have the ability to
require certain individuals to register in the future when continued monitoring
is considered necessary for national security reasons.
The Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT Program will serve to protect
the United States and its territories from threats to national security.
This program will provide the capability to record the entry and exit of
visitors into and out of the United States, and provide officials with
information about persons who are in the United States in violation of the terms
of their admission to the United States.
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