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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05YEREVAN110 2005-01-21 12:42:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Yerevan
Cable title:  

J-1 SUMMER WORK AND TRAVEL CALLBACK

Tags:   KFRD CMGT CVIS AM 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 YEREVAN 000110 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR CA/FPP MARY ALICE NOYES

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFRD CMGT CVIS AM
SUBJECT: J-1 SUMMER WORK AND TRAVEL CALLBACK
SURVEY RESULTS



1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified; please
protect accordingly.



2. (U) Action request. Please see paragraph


10.



--------------------------


SUMMARY


--------------------------





3. (SBU) Post's Fraud Prevention Unit (FPU)
performed a callback survey of all summer 2004
J-1 work and travel program participants
traveling from Armenia. Despite new measures
to combat fraud, the FPU confirmed that 33% of
the program's 321 participants did not return
to Armenia. Difficult as it is to believe,
this rate of return is actually better than in
previous years. A few programs in particular,
Open Doors (OD), the International Exchange
Center (IEC), and Youth Exchange Service (YES)
had especially high percentages of participants
who did not return to Armenia. Despite our
best efforts, this program seems incurably
vulnerable to fraud in Armenia, and we question
whether it should continue here. End Summary.



--------------------------


BACKGROUND


--------------------------





4. (SBU) Post has had a long history of
problems with J-1 work and travel programs.
Previous call-back surveys have revealed high
levels of overstay, ranging from 40-60%. For
summer 2004 applicants, Post attempted a more
through vetting of participants.
Representatives from all of the sponsoring
companies arranged a meeting with the GOAM
Deputy Head of the Office of Visas and Foreign
Registration (OVIR) and the outgoing Consul to
protest the low issuance rates. Post continued
to issue only 65% of J-1 work and travel
applicants for the season.



--------------------------


METHODOLOGY


--------------------------





5. (SBU) FPU maintains a list of all Armenian
nationals who receive J-1 visas for summer work
and travel programs. This list is sorted by
program sponsor and contains local phone
numbers for almost every applicant. Each LES
in the section called 50-80 of the numbers and
requested to speak personally with the
applicant. If the applicant was not available,
the LES would continue to call until they
either spoke personally with the applicant or
were told that the applicant is no longer in
Armenia. Entries with outdated numbers or no
numbers were listed as inconclusive. The Fraud
Prevention Manager (FPM) then calculated
results based on this information for almost
100% of the population.



--------------------------


RESULTS AND ANALYSIS


--------------------------





6. (SBU) The summer 2004 work and travel
programs in Armenia were the Armenian Center
for Youth and Student International Relations
and Exchanges (ACE), Armenian Center for
International Cooperation (ACI), Armenia
International Exchange Program (AIEP),
International Exchange Center (IEC), Open Doors
(OD), Youth Exchange Armenia (YEA), and Youth
Exchange Service (YES).

ProgramTotal Overstay Inconclusive
ACE 81 20 6
ACI 33 8 3
AIEP 54 12 5
IEC 34 17 4
OD 19 13 3
YEA 23 7 6
YES 45 18 9

The total percentage of program participants
still in the United States ranges from the 33%
that are confirmed overstays up to 45% if all
of those unable to be reached are in the United
States. While the percentage of overstays has
dropped from previous years, several programs
(IEC, OD, and YES) have approximately half of
their participants still in the United States.



--------------------------


FUNNY BUSINESS


--------------------------





7. (SBU) Due to the high number of overstays
during previous work & travel seasons, FPM
interviewed a few returned applicants about
their application experiences with the
sponsoring companies. Respondents alleged that
some of these companies charged between USD 500
and 2000 per application. FPM also received a
number of anonymous allegations via letter and
telephone that many of these companies were
charging a USD 30 "finger-scanning" charge to
applicants after they received their visa,
falsely claiming that the fee is intended to
offset the costs of finger-scanning arrivals at
ports of entry by US immigration inspectors.



8. (SBU) During this year's callback survey,
FPM received a number of reports that unknown
persons alleging to be from the U.S. Embassy
were calling the families of overstayed
applicants. These families were instructed to
report in case of inquiries that, their
relatives had returned. These reports came
from families of applicants who traveled under
the AIEP.



9. (SBU) FPM received one disturbing report
that the family of one overstayed participant
was called by YES and informed that they had to
pay a fine of USD 3000 to compensate for the
fact that their relative had not returned.



--------------------------


GUIDANCE REQUESTED


--------------------------





10. (SBU) Given the high number of overstayed
participants, and the behavior of the companies
sponsoring their travel, Post will be very
reluctant to issue J-1 work and travel visas in
the near future. Post requests guidance on how
to address this issue. Above all, Post
strongly recommends canceling the IEC, OD, YES
and AIEP programs because of their excessive
overstay rate and/or unethical practices.

EVANS