DHS has taken steps to make sure that immigration benefits are not granted to individuals who pose a threat to national security. This is done through the Visa Security Program (VSP), Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), and International Agreements.
The Visa Security Program (VSP) permits citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without a visa. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with the Department of State (DOS), deploys trained special agents overseas to high-risk visa activity posts to identify potential terrorist and criminal threats before they reach the U.S. The VSP was created after 9/11 and is currently deployed to 19 posts in 15 countries.
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires that U.S., Mexican, and Canadian citizens present a passport or other secure travel document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the U.S.
Prior to WHTI, U.S. or Canadian travelers could present any one of numerous documents and simply make an oral declaration of citizenship. In 2005, DHS checked five percent of all passengers crossing land borders by vehicles against law enforcement databases. Today, due to WHTI, the national query rate is over 97 percent.
DHS and DOS have worked with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom to develop routine sharing of biometric information collected for immigration purposes. To date, this effort has identified many cases of routine immigration fraud, as well as dangerous people traveling under false identities.