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Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 8, 2002

Myths and Facts about US Immigration Standards for Saudi Arabian Immigrants

  • MYTH: Most Saudi applicants never come into contact with a US citizen until stepping off the airplane onto U.S. soil.
    FACT: Over the past year, 45% of visa applicants in Saudi Arabia have been personally interviewed. Not all applicants are required to come into the Consulate or Embassy for a personal interview since many applicants have no additional information beyond that contained in the application and supporting documents to offer a consular officer. These individuals may include: infants, elderly people with previous travel to the US, business people who work with US companies and have a long history of respecting US laws. Waiving an interview for these applicants allows consular officers to devote their limited time to those from whom useful information may be elicited by an interview and allows them to devote more time to screen those who may present a risk to the United States.
  • MYTH: Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that enjoys third party document collection for visa processing.
    FACT: Third parties, whether they are travel agents, courier services, or the national postal service have no role whatsoever in the visa process beyond delivering the application materials. Third parties often distribute visa application forms, collect the completed application along with supporting documents (including passport) and send the documents to US consulates or embassies for processing.
  • MYTH: Consular Affairs is violating its own internal protocol by granting a third party document program to a country where one-fourth of the applicants are refused.
    The refusal rate has nothing to do with whether or not the applicant may present an application via a third party. Decisions are based on interviews, additional documentary requirements, visa classification and other factors. Decisions on whether or not to refuse the visa are made entirely by the American consular officer without input from the party that delivered the application and/or supporting documents.
  • MYTH: If a Saudi travel agent is reasonably satisfied that the traveler has the means to buy a tour package there will be little further evaluation of the applicant’s qualifications.
    Only an American consular officer may assess any applicant’s qualification for a visa. An applicant’s economic status has nothing whatsoever to do with assessing his security risk to the United States. Only when the consular officer is satisfied that the applicant is not ineligible on any of the law’s statutory grounds for refusal (which include security grounds), does the question of his or her ties to their home country come into play. Should the consular officer have any reason to question the applicant’s motives, on security or on any other grounds, the applicant would likely be called in for an interview and his wealth would be irrelevant to any determination made for seeking entry to the US. Applicants are presumed by the law to be "intending immigrants" until they establish to the satisfaction of the consular officer that they are not.
  • MYTH: Foreign Service Officers’ job performance reviews focus primarily on politeness and courtesy not on their ability to screen out terrorists.
    Officers are expected to refuse visa applications as well as to issue them politely. Good judgment with respect to visa decisions is a critical requirement for consular officers and is addressed in several areas of their annual review. 
  • MYTH: Junior Foreign Officers are typically young, often unmotivated and almost always under-trained and under-prepared.
    Junior Foreign Officers are among the US government’s most talented and best-prepared employees. The average age of a Junior Officer is 30-years-old with a large number starting second careers. They are trained in basic consular work, foreign languages and area studies. They are supervised by experienced consular officers who themselves are rated on how well they train and supervise their staff.
  • MYTH: The Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS), our name-checking system used to alert consular officers to ineligible applicants, is easily defeated by the applicant slightly varying the manner in which the name is written or changing the birthdate to hide a match.
    While no area of human endeavor is impervious to human error, CLASS (Consular Lookout and Support System) name-checking system is designed to make it tough for an applicant to disguise relevant information in our system or for a consular officer to overlook it. CLASS provides a consular officer with information that can be used to follow up directly with the applicant any inconsistencies that might have been discovered in the application process. CLASS algorithms provide uniform and consistent transliterations of names in non-Roman alphabets and the systems search parameters display a wide range of potential matches that a consular officer must review prior to issuing a visa. Other documentation is necessary as well, such as a passport, job letters and other data for the consular officer to cross-check.