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  • Article: Consular Corner: February 2013 by Liam Schwartz

    Consular Corner - February 2013

    by Liam Schwartz

    Courage on the Visa Line:

    The Lessons of Olsen v. Albright

    December marked the 15th year anniversary of Olsen v. Albright, the landmark federal court case in which a Consular Officer alleged he was terminated from the Foreign Service for refusing to follow what he believed was a discriminatory visa adjudication system employed at the U.S. Consulate General in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

    Robert Olsen was a Foreign Service officer on his first tour of duty, assigned to the nonimmigrant visa line in Sao Paulo. Olsen's background was solidly "establishment:" A securities lawyer who graduated Harvard with a degree in History, Olsen had also served as Chief Operating Officer of an industrial bank before joining the Foreign Service. Nothing seemed to indicate that Olsen was the rebellious type.

    But if standing up for one's principles makes one a rebel, then this is exactly what Robert Olsen was.

    The facts of the case, as described by District Judge Stanley Sporkin, are as follows:

    The Consulate General had a policy manual which officers were required to follow in adjudicating visa applications; according to the manual, officers were to base their decisions to issue or deny nonimmigrant visas, in part or in whole, on the applicant's physical appearance. The manual even set forth a series of profiling codes to be noted on the application forms by adjudicating officers so that consular managers would have an idea of why the applicant was refused. These codes included the following:

    RK = Rich kid

    LP = Looks poor

    TP = Talks poor

    TC = Take care.

    In addition to the codes linking visa decisions to physical appearance, the manual focused on the ethnicity, place of birth and national origin of applicants. For example, one of the provisions of the manual provided:

    "Korean/Chinese Fraud. Major fraud; hard to check. Visas are rarely issued to these groups unless they have had previous visas and are older."


    Another example:

    "Arab and Chinese last names set off bells and whistles."

    And yet another example:

    "Filipinos and Nigerians have high fraud rates, and their applications should be viewed with extreme suspicion, while British and Japanese citizens rarely overstay, and generally require less scrutiny."

    Acting pursuant to the manual, officers indicated reasons for the denial of visas with remarks such as "slimy looking," "looks and talks poor" and "looks scary." Applicants of certain national origins had significantly higher refusal rates than others.

    Robert Olsen was disturbed by these policies. Believing them to be legally questionable, he told his consular managers that he objected to basing his visa decisions on the guidance in the policy manual.

    Olsen's managers considered his push-back as insubordinate conduct. They responded to his questioning of post policy by criticizing Olsen for his lower refusal rate and longer interview speed. They insisted he could, and should, achieve a three minute interview speed and a thirty percent refusal rate if he would just use the manual's profiling system.

    As the Consular Chief later said:

    "Olsen was refusing to be 'a part of the system'…he refuses to compromise with his own convictions."

    Olsen's annual evaluation report, prepared by the Consular Chief, rated his performance as unsatisfactory. According to the report, Olsen "disagrees with our policy and has decided to do things 'his way.'" Olsen's visa decisions, the evaluation continued were "routinely questionable" and Olsen himself "has a problem accepting authority….Olsen well understands what is appropriate but refuses to do what everyone else in the section does because he simply does not agree."

    The evaluation report's conclusion: Olsen's performance was so poor that he was unlikely to serve effectively even with additional experience.

    Several months after the evaluation report, Olsen was informed of his termination from the Foreign Service.

    Olsen submitted a grievance to a Foreign Service Grievance Board but to no avail: the Board concluded that "the practice of establishing local post-specific guidelines is not a violation of law" and that Olsen's resistance to Sao Paulo's guidelines supported his dismissal.

    Undeterred, Olsen filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging that he had been terminated because of his refusal to follow discriminatory visa policies.

    On December 22, 1997, the District Court issued a decision on the legality of the Consulate's visa policies. The Court's findings included the following:

    • The Consulate's policies were strongly based on impermissible generalizations and stereotypes and were thus unlawful.
    • Sao Paulo's policies improperly encouraged visa officers to pre-judge certain groups solely on the basis of their nationality or physical appearance. For example, applications from Koreans, Chinese and Arabs were deemed as possibly fraudulent even before any facts about the applicants were known.
    • The principle that government must not discriminate against people because of the color of their skin or the place of their birth means that visa adjudication policies rooted in generalizations about an applicant's appearance or nationality are unfair and unjustified.
    • Olsen stood up for this principle, and attempted to avoid using the unjustified policies in adjudicating visa applications. He faced the difficult task of carrying out his job while trying to avoid policies he rightfully concluded were improper.
    • The Consulate's visa policies were in violation of law and Olsen was justified in refusing to follow them.
    • The State Department may not take actions against employees for refusing to obey an order that would require them to violate a law.

    Thanks to the District Court's decision and the courage of one Consular Officer, an applicant's skin color, race or national origin are no longer legitimate considerations in adjudicating visa applications.

    Now an attorney in Washington, D.C., Robert Olsen has graciously consented to speak with Consular Corner about the continuing lessons of his case. After reading his responses, we hope you'll agree that Robert Olsen remains an inspiration to us all.

    Liam Schwartz : You entered the Foreign Service at age forty seven, following a career in law and business. What motivated you to leave a successful private practice in favor of representing our country abroad?

    Robert Olsen: I thought I had accomplished all I could as a Colorado lawyer, and I was looking for new challenges. In those days I imagined, perhaps a bit naively, that being a diplomat would call on some of the same skills I thought I had developed as a lawyer. Certainly the complexity and sensitivity of the problems I might deal with would involve a big step up. Finally, there was the selfish motive of being paid by my country to live and work abroad. When I entered the Foreign Service in 1992, I had travelled to 27 countries -- including Brazil -- and dabbled in half a dozen different languages. I clearly enjoyed foreign cultures and interacting with persons from abroad.

    LS: How difficult was it for someone whose expertise was in structuring and negotiating offerings of equity securities to adjust to visa work?

    RO: In those days almost every Foreign Service Officer paid his or her dues by serving a first tour of duty as a consular officer. Even though my career interest was in serving as a political or economic officer, I took pretty quickly to visa adjudication. I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it. I had always enjoyed statutory construction and legal reasoning, and the Immigration and Nationality Act, with which I had had no prior experience, turned out to be an amazingly complex and interesting statute to work with. As a securities lawyer and litigator for fourteen years, I was constantly reviewing and evaluating the evidentiary significance of business documents, and had learned to do so quickly, so within a few weeks of my arrival in Sao Paulo I found that I was able to work fairly rapidly through a pile of visa applications and supporting paperwork. Finally, I had taken plenty of depositions as a lawyer, and while I had never tried to take a three-minute deposition, I found that I could form a well-founded opinion on the credibility of a visa applicant after just a three-minute interview. Frankly it was not the work that gave me difficulty; it was the working conditions.

    LS: As an entry-level visa officer, you refused to go along with policies for evaluating visa applicants which had been developed by your consular managers. In hindsight, the illegality of these policies is clear, but at the time others at the Consulate in Sao Paulo towed the line, so the line between right and wrong must have appeared at least a bit hazy. What were your thoughts, and your inspiration, in standing up to the post's visa profiling system?

    RO : I had been born into a progressive family, I had attended liberal universities as an undergraduate and graduate student, I had ingested a bit of constitutional and employment law as a lawyer, and I had had friends and acquaintances of all stripes from all over the world. Beyond that, I had come of age in the 1960s and identified strongly with the civil rights movement and the struggles generally of underdogs. There was no way I could suspend my values and beliefs as a human being and blindly adopt the values expressed by my colleagues, many of whom had limited work and life experience in the private sector. Efficiency in visa adjudication-- and I was pretty efficient, as it turned out -- did not trump common sense and important values, as far as I was concerned.

    LS: In acting against you for "insubordination" and "failure to accept authority," your managers received the full support of the Consulate, the Foreign Service Director General and even the Foreign Service Grievance Board. Where did you find the strength to keep on going all the way up to the District Court?

    RO : In 1992, when I took the oath of office as a Foreign Service Officer on the 8th floor of MainState, surrounded by friends and family, I was ridiculously proud. When I was put on a plane and drummed out of the Foreign Service fewer than three years later, I felt about as low as I had ever felt in my life. Importantly, I felt I had failed my wife of three years and our son, whom we had adopted as a newborn in a Sao Paulo charity hospital. I knew I had been wronged, I had been unable to resolve my disagreement within the system, and I wanted to give myself one more chance to right things. I knew evidence when I saw it, and I knew how to draft a complaint. Fortunately -- or unfortunately -- I was out of work for five or six months after I left the Foreign Service, so I used the time on my hands to gear up for litigation. Eventually, a fine DC-based global law firm came in on my side and represented me. After that, it was easy.

    LS: The price for standing up for what's right – a Foreign Service career cut short after less than three years – must have made the whole experience feel somewhat bittersweet. Looking back to Sao Paulo, do you have any regrets?

    RO: Sure. One of my greatest successes in life turned out to be also one of my greatest failures, but that is not so unusual, I suppose. I miss our Brazilian friends and some of the people I served with. I wish my learning curve had been a bit steeper and I had found a way to diplomatically deal with one or two key colleagues in Brazil, and-- gosh! -- I could certainly use the government pension today. Beyond that, however, it is probably true that at that time I was not a good fit for the Foreign Service, so I have no other regrets.

    LS: What are the lessons from your case which you'd like to see passed down to consular officers on the visa line today?

    RO: I am a terrible preacher. Every consular officer has to make his or her own decisions. Any principled position in life will attract friends and enemies, but if you can accept that, decide what is important and act on it.

    What Our Friends Are Saying About Us

    Looking at their respective travel advisories, both Canada and Australia seem perfectly happy with their nationals visiting our shores. The British, on the other hand, describe the U.S. as a magnet for crime and indiscriminate terrorism. With friends like this…

    Australia : "We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in the United States."


    Canada : "There is no nationwide advisory in effect for the United States (U.S.). Exercise normal security precautions."

    United Kingdom :

    "Terrorism. There is a general threat from terrorism in the United States. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

    Crime . You should bear in mind the following:

    • Do not leave your door open at any time.
    • Avoid wearing expensive jewellery and carrying valuable items in run down areas.
    • Do not sleep in your car by the roadside or in rest areas.
    • Avoid leaving items on display in cars.
    • Try to stay on main roads and use well-lit car parks.
    • If hit from behind while driving, indicate to the other driver to follow you to a public place and call 911 for Police help.

    Road Safety. In 2011 there were 32,310 road deaths in the USA (Source: DfT). This equates to 10.5 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 3.0 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2011."

    The travel advisories from our friends in Australia, Canada and the U.K. can be accessed here:

    Australia: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-c...tes_of_America

    Canada: http://travel.gc.ca/destinations/united-states

    UK: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-.../united-states

    Changes to Visa Refusal Guidance

    The Department of State has introduced wide-ranging changes to the guidance provided in Volume 9 ("Visas") of the Foreign Affairs Manual ("FAM") relating to visa refusals. These changes touch on virtually every aspect of the visa refusal process, from the legal grounds for refusals, to the manner in which applicants and attorneys should be informed of a refusal, to supervisory review of refusals. A summary of these changes, which were made public in February 2013, follows below.

    Internal Review of Visa Refusals (9 FAM 41.121 N2.3-7 )

    A new addition to this Note provides important clarification as to the breadth and depth of the supervisory review:

    "The reviewing officer should be the adjudicating consular officer’s direct supervisor, even if that supervisor does not have a consular commission and title. The supervisor must review the case and either confirm or disagree with the refusal. In order to evaluate performance, the supervisor needs to see a regular and representative sampling of the adjudicating officer’s work. The review should focus on, but is not limited to, the potential overuse of 221(g) refusals when 214(b) should be applied, the clear articulation of 214(b) refusals, and verification that 212(a) refusals satisfy applicable law and regulations. While reviewing officers without recent consular experience cannot be expected to know the breadth and depth of visa statutes and regulations, the adjudicating officer should be able to cite Departmental guidance (the INA, FAM, ALDACs, etc.) in support of the refusal. The reviewing officer must indicate his or her decision for all refusals reviewed by marking the appropriate box in the NIV Adjudication Review report in the Consular Consolidated Database (CCD). 22 CFR 41.121(c) specifies that a refusal must be reviewed without delay; that is, on the day of the refusal or as soon as is possible."

    Re-adjudication of Refused Visa Cases by Reviewing Officer (9 FAM 41.121 N2.3-8)

    A seemingly minor change in a key sentence regarding a reviewing officer's non-concurrence with a refusal could have an unintended impact on the review process. Prior guidance provided as follows:

    "If a reviewing officer with a consular commission and title does not concur with the refusal, he or she may assume responsibility and re-adjudicate the case."

    The new guidance provides:

    "If a reviewing officer with a consular commission and title does not concur with the adjudicating officer, he or she may assume responsibility and re-adjudicate the case."

    In our mind, it is tougher to disagree with a person – the adjudicating officer – than with an action– the refusal. As a result, this new phrasing could have an unintended chilling effect on the substantive review of visa refusals.

    Likewise, the deletion of four words from another key sentence could also impact the review process. Previously, reviewing officers who did not concur with a refusal were counseled as follows:

    "Discuss the basis for the original refusal, especially elements of fact, with the adjudicating officer in a good faith effort to arrive at a mutually acceptable final adjudication of the application." (Emphasis added.)

    The new guidance is true to the previous text, with one surprising exception – it deletes the words "especially elements of fact." One is left wondering if this deletion is an editorial error, or whether reviewing officers should now understand that their discussion with adjudicating officers need not focus on the factual elements of the case.

    Manner in Refusing Applicants (9 FAM 41.121 N2.3-9 )

    The final editing work on the new FAM guidance falls short of the mark at new N2.3-9. The opening text appears as follows:

    "The manner in which visa applicants are refused can be very important in The manner in which visa applicants are refused can be very important in relations between the post and the host country, as well as to the United States’ image to the applicant and the broader population. You should be courteous at all times and must be careful not to appear insensitive." (Repeated words appear in the original.)

    This kind of error happens to everyone– but another possible error is less understandable. The following phrase has been inexplicably deleted from the Department's guidance to consular officers on how best to explain a refusal to applicants:

    "The need for clear language is essential."

    We trust this deletion was an editing error and that the phrase will be reinserted in an upcoming FAM change.

    Nonimmigrant Visa Refusals (9 FAM 41.121 Notes)

    214(b) Refusal Letter (9 FAM 41.121 N2.3-4)

    For the first time, consular posts must utilize Department-approved letters in 214(b) refusal cases. This mandate represents a change from prior guidance, which allowed posts to draft their own 214(b) refusal letters without prior approval from Washington.

    The new guidance provides as follows:

    "In the case of an NIV refusal based on 214(b), posts are required to provide applicants with the Department-approved letter appropriate for the applicant’s circumstances. The prescribed refusal letters are found at 9 FAM 40.6 Exhibits III and IV. 9 FAM 40.6 Exhibit III contains the refusal letter appropriate for those applicants being denied for lack of a residence abroad. 9 FAM 40.6 Exhibit IV contains the refusal letter appropriate for those visa classes subject to 214(b), but not the residence abroad requirement."

    A week after posting this new guidance, the Department introduced the two above-mentioned 214(b) refusal letters on its website. Both Exhibits end with the advice that 214(b) refusals cannot be appealed, but that the applicant is free to re-apply at any time. Interestingly, the Exhibit III "Lack of Residence" letter advises that an applicant deciding to reapply "must submit a new application form and photo, pay the visa application fee again, and make a new appointment to be interviewed by a consular officer. The "Other Reasons" letter, though, advises that upon reapplication, the applicant "must submit a new application form and photo, pay the visa application fee again, and, as applicable, be interviewed by a consular officer. (Emphasis added.) This added phrase almost makes it sound as if some applicants reapplying for a visa following a previous 214(b) refusal can have the statutorily-mandated interview waived, which is surprising, to say the least.

    212(a) Refusal Letter (9 FAM 41.121 N2.3-3)

    The new guidance on visa refusals permits consular posts to continue to draft their own 212(a) refusal letters without prior approval from Washington, provided that the refusal letter meets the following criteria:

    1. It sets forth the provision of the law under which the visa is refused, "unless instructed or authorized to do otherwise by the Department;"

    2. It neither encourages nor discourages the applicant from reapplying; and

    1. It informs the applicant whether a waiver is available.

    Alternatively, posts are free to use the text of a newly introduced Optional Refusal Letter, or to modify this optional text as the post sees fit. The Department posted this optional refusal letter as 9 FAM 40.6 Exhibit II.

    221(g) Refusal Letter (9 FAM 41.121 N2.3-5)

    Consular posts may also still utilize their own refusal letters in 221(g) refusal cases, provided the letters meet the following criteria:

    "(1) Explicitly state the provision of the law under which the visa is refused;

    (2) Not state that the denial is “temporary” or “interim” or that the case is suspended, although it may reference further administrative processing of the case;

    (3) Neither encourage nor discourage the applicant from reapplying; and

    (4) Include the following language: Please be advised that for U.S. visa purposes, including ESTA (the ESTA Web site), this decision constitutes a denial of a visa."

    Here, too, posts are free to use the text of the Exhibit II Optional Refusal Letter for 221(g) refusals. But wait - the Optional Refusal Letter does not meet the above-listed four criteria set by the Department for 221(g) refusal letters (for example, it contains no reference to ESTA). How confusing for consular officers!

    Immigrant Visa Refusals (9 FAM 42.81 Procedural Notes)

    Changes to visa refusal procedure are indeed fast and furious: the Procedural Notes relating to immigrant visa refusals were changed on February 13, 2013 and then again just a week later, on February 20, 2013.

    In the past, when an applicant was refused an immigrant visa, consular officers were instructed to prepare Form OF-194 ("the Foreign Service of the United States of America Refusal Worksheet"). The updates to the procedural notes on immigrant visa refusals now include the following:

    9 FAM 42.81 PN1.1-1 212(a) Refusal Letter

    a. For a 212(a) NIV refusal posts may draft the refusal letter in the manner they deem appropriate and without Departmental approval. However, the letter must:

    (1) Explicitly state the provision of the law under which the visa is refused, unless advised otherwise by the Department;

    (2) Neither encourage nor discourage the applicant from reapplying; and

    (3) Inform the applicant whether a waiver is available.

    9 FAM 42.81 PN 1.1-2 221(g) Refusal Letter

    a. For a 221(g) NIV refusal posts may draft the refusal letter in the manner they deem appropriate and without Departmental approval. However, the letter must:

    (1) Explicitly state the provision of the law under which the visa is refused;

    (2) Neither encourage nor discourage the applicant from reapplying; and

    (3) Include the following language: (a) Please be advised that for U.S. visa purposes, including ESTA (see the ESTA Web site), this decision constitutes a denial of a visa. (b) This language should be included for denials of applicants for petition-based visas only.

    This is confusing, given that the new text in the immigrant visa procedural notes, aimed at providing guidance to immigrant visa officers, apparently relates to nonimmigrant visa refusals. Further edits are sure to come.

    Working Relationship with Attorneys

    The FAM notes dealing with the working relationship between consular officers and attorneys have been updated to reflect the changes to visa refusal guidance.

    In the nonimmigrant visa context, this new text provides as follows:

    "In any NIV case involving a refusal under any provision of the law, you must provide the applicant and any attorney of record a written refusal."

    9 FAM 41.121 N2.3-2 Inform Applicant and Attorney in Writing

    In the immigrant visa context, this new text provides:

    "You must send a notification of the action taken at the time of the final immigrant visa appointment to the applicant's attorney of record on a locally reproduced nonstandard form letter (see 9 FAM 40.4 Exhibit I for a sample that post may wish to use). If the immigrant visa is refused, you must give the applicant a copy of the refusal letter (see 9 FAM 41.121 N2.3-2 and 9 FAM 42.81 PN1.1-1 and PN1.1-2)."

    9 FAM 40.4 N12.2 Notifying Attorney

    Given that these updates were issued on Valentine's Day, can anyone doubt that they will lead to greater love and understanding in the working relationship between Conoff and lawyer?

    The above changes to visa procedure can be accessed as follows:

    9 FAM 41.121 Notes: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/87507.pdf

    9 FAM 42.81 Procedural Notes: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/87918.pdf

    9 FAM 40.6 Exhibit II

    http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/205188.pdf

    9 FAM 40.6 Exhibit III

    http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/205189.pdf

    9 FAM 40.6 Exhibit IV

    http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/205190.pdf

    9 FAM 40.4

    http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/86926.pdf

    9 FAM 41.113

    http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/87503.pdf

    Changes to the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) Monthly Report

    Poverty Income Guidelines 2013 (9 FAM 40.41 Exhibit I )

    The 2013 Poverty Income Guidelines have been added to the Foreign Affairs Manual. These guidelines are used in conjunction with the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) requirement in immigrant visa cases; failure to meet the applicable minimum poverty guideline threshold can lead to inadmissibility under INA 212(a)(4)(C).

    Parenthetically, the new poverty guideline for a family of four in the 48 contiguous states and Washington, DC is $23,550. As consumer prices rise, this threshold of American families in poverty continues to expand; last year, the same guideline was $23,050 and five years ago, $21,200.

    http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/86991.pdf

    Unlawful Presence and the 10-Year Bar (9 FAM 40.92 Notes)

    The new year's first non-classified change to the provisions of 9 FAM was posted earlier this month. 9 FAM 40.92 N2.2, relating to departures which trigger the 10-year bar, has been updated in accordance with a 2012 BIA case which discussed departures from the U.S., by people who have been unlawfully present here for an extended period, which do not automatically result in the bar.

    The gist of the updated guidance is that a foreign national cannot become inadmissible under INA 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(II) solely by virtue of a departure and return to the United States undertaken pursuant to a valid grant of advance parole based on the individual's pending application for adjustment of status.


    9 FAM 40.92 N2.2 can be accessed here: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/87120.pdf

    The BIA case, Matter of Arrabally and Yerrabelly, can be accessed here: http://www.justice.gov/eoir/vll/intdec/vol25/3748.pdf

    Consular Corner Quiz

    1. What is the period of time following a visa refusal which an applicant must wait before reapplying for a nonimmigrant visa?

    (a) Six months

    (b) One year

    (c) The applicant may reapply at any time

    2. Which State Department entity administers the Diversity Visa program?

    3. What percentage of all overseas visitors enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program?

    4. May a K-1 nonimmigrant visa be issued to an applicant who, as a former exchange visitor, is subject to the two year home residence requirement?

    5. Approximately how many people were sworn in as new U.S. citizens at naturalization ceremonies in fiscal year 2012?

    (a) 68,000

    (b) 680,000

    (c) 6,800,000

    6. Where a profession included in the NAFTA list requires a specific degree, may TN visa applicants use a combination of education and experience as a substitute for the required degree?

    7. Who does the Department of State consider a "homeless" visa applicant?

    8. In 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined with the Secretary of Homeland Security in a Joint Vision on Secure Borders and Open Doors in the Information Age. Who was this Secretary of Homeland Security?

    9. Does the Department of State insist that locally employed staff, applying for a visa to attend training in Washington, pay the Machine-Readable Visa fee?

    10. Foreign Service officers serving at consular posts where civil insurrection, terrorism, or war threaten physical harm or imminent danger may be entitled to additional danger pay. Does the U.S. Government insist on taxing this danger pay?

    Top Ten Visa Wait Times at U.S. Consular Posts, February 2103*

    #

    Country

    Consular Post

    This Month (Feb 2013)

    Visa Wait Time

    Last Month (Jan 2013)

    Visa Wait Time

    Last Year (Feb 2012)

    Visa Wait Time

    Average Monthly Wait Time During Past 12 Months

    1

    Cuba

    Havana

    478 days

    7/312 processing

    999 days

    2

    Canada

    Calgary

    66 days

    44 days

    1 day

    33 days

    3

    Yemen

    Saana

    51 days

    93 days

    20 days

    60 days

    4

    Algeria

    Algiers

    47 days

    47 days

    30 days

    32 days

    5

    Haiti

    Port au Prince

    45 days

    43 days

    7 days

    27 days

    6

    Egypt

    Cairo

    43 days

    35 days

    9 days

    18 days

    7

    Venezuela

    Caracas

    37 days

    41 days

    264 days

    162 days

    8

    Nigeria

    Abuja

    30 days

    39 days

    78 days

    100 days

    9 tie

    Cameroon

    Yaounde

    28 days

    23 days

    10 days

    27 days

    9 tie

    Vietnam

    HCMC

    28 days

    21 days

    1 day

    10 days

    10

    Iraq

    Baghdad

    26 days

    20 days

    1 day

    17 days

    ** Updated to February 4, 2013 and based on published Department of State data. The “visa wait time” is the estimated time in which individuals need to wait to obtain a nonimmigrant visa interview appointment at a given consular post.

    Top Wait Times by Region

    The Americas Cuba/Havana (478 days)

    Middle East and North Africa Yemen/Sanaa (51 days)

    Africa Nigeria/Abuja (30 days)

    East Asia and Pacific Vietnam/HCMC (28 days)

    Europe and Eurasia Russia/Moscow (24 days)

    Central and South Asia Uzbekistan/Tashkent (11 days)

    Answers to Consular Corner Quiz

    1) (c) 9 FAM 41.121 N2.5

    2) The KentuckyConsularCenter. http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1321.html

    (3) 40%

    http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/205213.pdf

    4) No – not until the requirements of the two year home residence requirement have been met, or a waiver has been obtained. 9 FAM 41.81 N8.

    5) (b) http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/usc...004718190aRCRD

    6) No. 9 FAM 41.59 N7.1(c).

    7) An immigrant visa (IV) applicant who is a national of a country in which the United States has no consular representation or in which the political security situation is tenuous or uncertain enough that the limited consular staff cannot process IV applications. 9 FAM 42.61 N3.2-1.

    8) Michael Chertoff

    http://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2006/59242.htm

    9) No, provided that the applicant is issued a limited-validity visa. 9 FAM 41.107 N4.3

    10) Yes – on the theory that danger pay is an "incentive." (Shame on you, IRS!)

    http://aoprals.state.gov/content.asp?content_id=177&menu_id=78#01

    Quote of the Corner

    Our quote this month highlights the need for clear language in the current debate over the use of drone aircraft.

    "QUESTION: What can you tell us about that fleet of surveillance drones, small surveillance drones reportedly hovering over Baghdad and in control of the State Department?

    MS. NULAND: The State Department run by drones? Is that what you’re getting at? Is there one directing our briefing here?"

    http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2012/01/182732.htm


    About The Author

    http://lsa-law.squarespace.com/storage/LiamEn.jpg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1315404130785 Liam Schwartz is a principal in Liam Schwartz & Associates, a corporate immigration and consular law firm. He can be reached on Facebook, and at Liam@lsa-law.com


    The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) alone and should not be imputed to ILW.COM.
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