The Obama administration has ended an inactive registry program for visitors from countries where extremist groups are operating. President-elect Donald Trump may be considering a similar plan.
The rule change was to be published in the Federal Register on Friday, taking effect immediately.
The National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) was enacted one year after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US. It required men and boys from mostly Middle Eastern countries, and North Korea, to register with the federal government when they arrived in the United States.
The program was suspended in 2011 after more than 80,000 foreigners had been registered.
"The intervening years have shown that NSEERS is not only obsolete but that its use would divert limited personnel and resources from more effective measures," spokesman for the Homeland Security Department, (DHS) Neema Hakim said on Thursday.
"The removal of these regulations will have no substantive effect on the public because the regulations relate to a programme which has not been utilized since 2011 and which has been made obsolete by DHS' more advanced and efficient processes, programmes and systems," the DHS said in a document explaining its policy change.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the DHS now "engages in security and law enforcement efforts that were not possible when NSEERS was established."
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) opposed NSEERS from the beginning. "With this action, the US is on the right path to protect Muslim and Arab immigrants from discrimination," said Joanne Lin, senior legislative counsel for the ACLU.
President-elect Donald Trump called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US during his election campaign. He later changed his proposal to suspending immigration from regions that were considered to be exporting terrorism.
Trump has never publicly spoken about NSEERS but he has made clear his desire to take a far tougher approach toward immigration than Obama.
Earlier this month there were demonstrations calling for Obama to shut down NSEERS
kbd/jm (AP, Reuters)