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Consular Corner: March 2010

by Liam Schwartz

Our Contest Winner: "K-Visa Delight" by Paul Mayer

Earlier this month, Consular Corner's Facebook page announced our first creative writing contest, inspired by the "Consul General, Pig and Monkey" photo out of Embassy Beijing:

The rules of the contest were simple: Entries could take any form of written expression (short story, Haiku, limerick, etc.) but must include the words "Consul General" "Pig" and "Monkey." Entries were received from foreign service officers, immigration attorneys and consular observers from around the world.

We are pleased and honored to announce that the Contest's Grand Champion is "K-Visa Delight" by Paul Mayer. Congratulations to Paul (hope this gets added to your EER)!

"K-Visa Delight"

By Paul Mayer, Consular Section Chief at the U.S. Consulate General in Montreal.

Set to the tune of "Afternoon Delight", Starland Vocal Band circa 1976

"(verse 1)
Gonna get your K visa, baby hold on tight
Gonna do your DS-160 tonight
We met while gaming online, we both love to fight
Playing World of Warcraft online each and every night

Consul Generals do their business in the light of day
Documenting monkey business for VO/L/A

(verse 2)
Your U.S. trip is working up my appetite
2000 bucks I'm sending for your one-way, First Class flight
Another thousand's for your wedding gown, alright?
I'll sexx you up like Color Me Badd on our honeymoon night.

Skyrockets in flight,
K-visa delight (x2)
Guys like me can score alright.

(verse 3)
Our first meeting FTF will put me in the mood
I've liked those saucy pix you've sent me where you've been half nude
My roommate is a pig and he behaves so rude
He told me that in real life you're a Nigerian dude

Skyrockets in flight,
K-visa delight (x2)
You love me with all your might

(verse 4)
I'm against K visas and I'll tell you why
My sexy internet fiancée's a Nigerian guy
I cleaned my momma's basement, bought a new necktie
Waited ten hours at the airport, now I'm want to cry

Skyrockets in flight
K-visa delight (x2)
I'll try again tomorrow night."

Additional Contest Winners

The judges have named four additional category-specific winners:

Grand Champion, Haiku: Angela Pan, U.S. Embassy, Beijing
Grand Champion, Limerick: Brian Bolton, former foreign service officer
Grand Champion, Poetry: Domani Spero, "Diplopundit"
Grand Champion, Allegory: Anonymous immigration attorney

All the winning entries have been published here:

Congratulations to all!

ACS Vilnius to the Rescue

Kudos to the officer at ACS Vilnius whose actions and initiative helped a U.S. citizen in distress feel proud to be an American:
"The past few weeks have been really busy. and annoying. and busy.
I got back from Paris on a Sunday, went out the next Monday, and then my week exploded. We went out to Snekutis for some celebratory 'I am home!' beers. We talked nonsense, made jokes, and generally had a good time for a few hours. There were some skinheads boneheads in the bar, and they were staring us down (keep in mind, here I am generally seen as a 'f---ing foreigner'), but we were ignoring them for the most part, even when they were approaching the table like they wanted to say something. They didn't say anything, so we assumed that everything was fine. We were wrong. When we left the bar, they were waiting for us in the street and they immediately attacked my two male roommates. I tried to get in between the person that was attacking R. in front of me, but found myself thrown on the ground behind them instead. After a few minutes of screaming and trying to get the bar owner to help us (he ignored the entire situation, getting skinheads drunk must make him a lot of money) while watching helplessly as R. was being kicked on the ground, it ended.
We called the police and they picked us up. In the car we learned that Snekutis is a common place for skinheads to gather (it would have been nice to have been told this ahead of time) and the police did all they could to get us to just go home and not press charges. This included making us wait for an interpreter for two hours, telling us that we could write our statements, but we might as well be writing poetry for all it would matter, telling us that the officers needed to deal with a robbery, making us drink out of the tap because they 'don't have any cups', ignoring us some more, and refusing to give a copy of the statement that was written by a person who claimed he didn't speak any English without the benefit of the translator's assistance.
During the whole thing, I was on and off the phone with the US Embassy, and I can say that in that moment I was truly happy to be American. The Duty Officer was helpful and kind, and he made me feel like my statement and my well-being mattered. Then next morning, I met with a Consul and he was truly helpful, to the point that he volunteered to go to the police station with me, bringing a translator, and they stayed well past when they should have gone home to help me with the investigator. It is only because of them that I was taken seriously at all, and even though I believe that the police will not investigate this situation, I appreciate the help that the Embassy provided during the interview process and their efforts to make sure that the crime would be investigated."

Full House in the Foreign Service

Remember the scene from Full House in which Jessie is with the girls in a supermarket and is approached by another man with kids in tow?

"Hey, I saw you on TV this morning.

Really? Thank you.

You're, uh, Rebecca's husband, Jesse Donaldson.

It's Katsopolis. Jesse Katsopolis.

Whatever. I'm George, and it's nice to meet another househusband.

I'm not a househusband. I'm a-- I'm a musician.

Yeah, I'm a screenwriter. [CHUCKLES]

Look, I-- I'm just doing this because my career's temporarily on hold, okay?

Yeah, you know, I said the same thing to my wife when she went back to work. That was four years ago.

So for four years, all you've done is take care of the kids and the house?

Of course not. I mean, there's, uh, shopping and carpools and, oh, my favorite soap, General Hospital. Listen, I gotta run. I'll see you Thursday, double-coupon day."

We were reminded of this classic exchange by the following account by "David L," whose fantastic blog chronicles his experiences as the spouse of a foreign service officer beginning their first posting abroad:

"Now, I'm not too proud to be a 'stay-at-home' husband (it does help that I'm actually a work-from-home husband) and never really considered my masculinity to be at risk. Yet I should admit occasional feelings of discomfort on the topic.

It is not that I mind taking a financial backseat to my industrious, ambitious wife while putting my career on hold. Far from it. Part of the reason for my signing off on this whole deal stemmed from the fact that I was not getting any satisfaction from my career.

Rather, I can sense judgment in others - friends, family, and even the foreign service community. What is wrong with this guy? How can he watch idly from the sidelines? And from the foreign service, why doesn't he take the tests, too, and become a tandem?

Maybe this paranoia stems from cracks in my self confidence. Maybe I'm more proud than I once thought. Or maybe I subscribe to 1950s stereotypes more than I knew.

At least within my circle of friends, family, etc., it still is fine for the man of the house to be the sole (or dominant) breadwinner while the woman stays home and tends to the household duties. But when you challenge this norm by reversing these gender roles, there is some awkwardness.

Now it is up to me, and my fellow male EFMs to make peace with that judgment until the rest of the country catches up. For me, that is why having some source of independent income is so important. Not only does it let me maintain an identity separate from the foreign service, but it is part of my claim to my manhood. I'm bringing home some of the bacon, too, even though I'm also cooking it.

So if you'll excuse me, I have to go to the grocery store now, and I'm fine with that."

Laptop NIVs: The Future is Here

The Inspector General's February 2010 inspection report on Embassy Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea had some positive feedback for the Embassy's achievements in promoting U.S. goals in the region. Moreover, the report indicates that the once futuristic notion of "visa processing on a laptop" is operational. In the words of the report:

"The Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) selected Embassy Port Moresby for a pilot laptop nonimmigrant visa (LNIV) program with the Solomon Islands being a trial location. The LNIV program permits consular officers to interview visa applicants away from consular sections. Visa units at the 'home section' complete visa processing with passports being returned to applicants via a courier service. This program, intended to manage workloads and serve visa seekers, remains in the pilot program stages. Regulatory implementation awaits methodology verification, cost determination, and successful field testing. CA expects user fees to cover all LNIV costs, although geographical bureaus may pay officer travel and subsistence costs.

Embassy Port Moresby consular leadership drafted a robust LNIV plan including regional security office involvement in LNIV site location, cost estimates, and securing CA approval. The consul expects to begin LNIV processing at the consular agency premises in Honiara in November 2008. When the results of this trial and information from other pilot plan locations become available, CA will determine whether to formally establish the program and determine fee structure worldwide."

(We imagine that the report meant to indicate November 2010 vice November 2008.)

The value of LNIVs was previously described in a December 2009 OIG report on Embassy Wellington and Consulate General Auckland, New Zealand; and Embassy Apia, Samoa. Per this report:

"Embassy Apia has no capacity to produce visas…. A consular officer from Auckland comes to Apia once each quarter to perform enrollment and conduct visa interviews for routine visa applications. Due to communication and band-width issues this service is being carried out using an experimental laptop nonimmigrant visa system (LNIV). This coverage appears appropriate for the visa demand in Samoa."

Ironically, in January of this year the OIG reported that the laptop computer inventories at overseas consular posts are inadequate: for example, 37 laptops in the official inventories at Embassies Bogota, Mexico City, Rome and Vienna had gone missing. Moreover, OIG inspectors found that 106 laptop computers were not even included in these official inventories.

Much obviously needs to be done before the LNIV comes to a consular post near you. There is no way the exciting LNIV program will be expanded before consular posts are better able to account for the whereabouts of their laptops, thus ensuring that vital visa systems and records are not compromised.

Changes to 9 FAM - Monthly Report

The number of published updates to 9 FAM (Visas) of the Foreign Affairs Manual slowed down this month. The available updates include a welcome correction to the "cheat sheet" provided by DOS to assist busy consular officers in determining an applicant's possible inadmissibility; misleading information about the nature of a 214(b) visa denial; and a bit of diplomatic equality for official representatives of Taiwan.

Inadmissibility Grounds (9 FAM 40.6 Exhibit I)

The FAM's chart summarizing the grounds of inadmissibility and available waivers has been corrected and updated. The Department, among other things, corrected a typographical error which impacted on the substantive law. Regrettably, even after these changes, the chart contains misleading information about the applicability of a key provision of the INA.

NIV Waivers Available for Crimes in Involving Moral Turpitude

"Factors in be considered include the nation and date of the offense…" has been changed to: "Factors in be considered include the nature and date of the offense…" The previous typo had misstated the legal rule by which the presence of moral turpitude in a statutory offense is determined according to United States law (and not the nation of the offense). See, in this regard, 9 FAM 40.21(a) N2.1.

214(b) Not an Inadmissibility

At least one error on the substantive law remains in this chart following the latest round of corrections.

The chart ends with a final category entitled "Other Inadmissibilities." This category describes an INA 214(b) visa refusal based on a presumption of immigrant intent as an inadmissibility for which no NIV waiver is available and no IV waiver applicable.

In fact, a 214(b) refusal is not a ground of inadmissibility.

As provided in 9 FAM 40.7 N1.2: "INA 214(b) serves as a basis for refusal of a visa to an alien who has not established entitlement to an NIV classification by proving that he or she falls within a definition of INA 101(a)(15). A refusal under 214(b) does not mean that the applicant is permanently inadmissible to the United States, it simply means they have not proven that they meet the requirements of a particular NIV classification. The same NIV applicant who is denied under 214(b) may, for example, be approvable for an IV or another class of NIV."

The continuing errors in this chart point underline the common sense rule that informed decisions on the law should not be made on the basis of cheat sheets: there is no substitute for reading the actual FAM regulation or INA provision.

TECRO and Interview Waivers and Fingerprints (9 FAM 41.102)

Because the United States does not have official relations with Taiwan, employees of the official representative of Taiwan in Washington - the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) - may not receive "A" or "G" nonimmigrant visa classification. Instead, representatives of Taiwan employed by TECRO receive E nonimmigrant visa classification.

The FAM has been updated to indicate that applicants for TECRO E-1 visas are entitled to a waiver of the in-person interview requirement on the same basis as applicants for A or G visas from countries enjoying official relations with the U.S.

A related FAM update provides that TECRO E-1 visa applicants, Taiwan officials of cabinet rank or higher and their accompanying spouses are exempt from the NIV fingerprinting requirements.

Are You Smarter Than A Junior Consular Officer?

1) A foreign service officer has just been assigned to the Visa Section of the U.S. Embassy located on Honshu, the largest island in an archipelago of 6,852 islands. To which country is this FSO headed?

2) The site of the new U.S. Embassy in London is next to the abandoned Battersea Power Station. Which legendary rock band officially launched its four-time platinum Animals album at the Battersea Power Station in January 1977?

3) A consular officer finds a K-1 visa applicant inadmissible to the United States. The officer supports the applicant's request for a waiver of inadmissibility. Where will the officer send the waiver request?

(a) The Admissibility Review Office in Washington.
(b) The USCIS office with appropriate jurisdiction overseas.
(c) The USCIS Service Center which approved the underlying I-129F petition.

4) The Secretary of State is in town for meetings with the host country Prime Minister. At what point in the Secretary's visit is it customary for the staff of the U.S. Embassy to hold a "wheels up" party in celebration of her visit?

5) Name one situation in which a consular officer abroad may not revoke a nonimmigrant visa even though it has been determined that foreign national is no longer eligible for a visa.

6) What percentage of State Department spouses overseas are men?

(a) 9%
(b) 19%
(b) 29%
(d) 39%
(e) 49%

7) This current U.S. Ambassador was a member of the Board of Directors and Management Committee of the St. Louis Cardinals for 14 years. Under his direction, the Cardinals won the World Series in 1982 and the National League Championships in 1985 and 1987. Who is this Ambassador?

8) Which visa classification is described by the FAM as designed for enhancing or facilitating economic and commercial interaction between the United States and foreign countries?

9) Which one of the following classes of personal employees seeking to accompany their employers to the U.S. may generally not qualify for B-1 visa status?

(a) Personal employees of U.S. citizens residing abroad
(b) Personal employees of foreign nationals in nonimmigrant status
(c) Personal employees of U.S. lawful permanent residents

10) This Oscar nominee for Best Actress ("Peggy Sue Got Married") first studied acting as a teenager in London, where her father served as a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Embassy. Her film debut was in the 1981 film "Body Heat." Who is she?

Top Ten Visa Wait Times at U.S. Consular Posts, March 2010*

*Within a short few weeks Riyadh's posted wait times crashed from 112 days to only 7 days. Although three African posts appear in this month's Top Ten list, all of the other 40 posts in Africa report wait times of 18 days or less.

# Country US Consular Post Visa Wait Time Increase/Decrease from last month Top 10 Position Last Month
1 Cuba US Interests Section Havana 903 days No change 1
2 Venezuela Caracas 300 days No change 2
3 Saudi Arabia Dhahran 135 days -4 days 3
4 Montenegro Podgorica 83 days + 11 days 5
5 Nigeria Lagos 45 days No change 7
6 (tie) Canada Toronto 42 days No change 8
6 (tie) Canada Montreal 42 days No change 8 (tie)
7 Germany Munich 38 days No change 9
8 Nigeria Abuja 34 days No change 10 (tie)
9 Ghana Accra 30 days No change New Listing
10 Brazil Sao Paulo 29 days +5 days New Listing
** Updated to March 9, 2010 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 (excluding Cuba) Venezuela/Caracas (300 days)
Middle East and North Africa Saudi Arabia/Dhahran (135 days)
Europe and Eurasia Montenegro/Podgorica (83 days)
Africa Nigeria/Lagos (45 days)
East Asia and Pacific China/Shanghai (25 days)
Central and South Asia India/New Delhi (21 days)

Answers to "Are You Smarter Than A Junior Consular Officer?"

1) Japan

2) Pink Floyd

3) (b)

4) When she has concluded the visit and her Boeing 757 has lifted off to take the Secretary to her next destination.

5) The foreign national is in the United States, or has commenced an uninterrupted journey to the United States. 9 FAM 41.122 PN1.3

6) (b)

7) Louis B. Susman, U.S. Ambassador, U.S. Embassy London

8) The E visa classification

9) (c)

10) Kathleen Turner

Quote of the Corner

"It is, sadly, almost a guarantee: In many countries, if you work in a U.S. embassy, someday someone is going to try to blow up your workplace." Jim Geraghty, National Review Online

About The Author

Liam Schwartz is a principal in Liam Schwartz & Associates, a corporate immigration and consular law firm. He can be reached on FaceBook, and at:

All rights reserved to the author.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.