The processing system outage began at about 7:30 p.m. EST (0030 GMT) and was resolved about 9:30 EST (0230 GMT), the customs agency said in a statement. All airports were back on line after wait times for travelers that were longer than usual, it said.
"At this time, there is no indication the service disruption was malicious in nature," the agency said. It gave no explanation for the disruption and said travelers were processed using alternative procedures.
Travelers entering the United States from overseas posted photos on social media of long lines at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
"No one has been getting past JFK Airport immigration for the last hour. Line is a few 100 deep. Seems like their system did completely go down. Happy New Year!" said Jessica Yang, a program manager at Microsoft, in a Twitter post.
Other airports, including Denver International Airport, also said they were affected. A similar computer outage occurred a year ago.
"Operations returning to normal as @CustomsBorder computer issue resolved. Issue affected other US airports. Thanks for your patience," Miami International Airport said in a Twitter post.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Paul Tait)
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)