|09GUANGZHOU631||2009-11-16 07:09:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Consulate Guangzhou|
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GUANGZHOU 000631
1. (SBU) Summary: In mid-September, Guangzhou's Fraud Prevention Unit
(FPU) conducted on-site visits as part of a validation study
focusing on the accuracy of issuances and refusals for students from
Fuzhou, Fujian. Fujian province has become notorious over the past
30 years for immigration document fraud and human smuggling.
Fifty-one (51) cases from those that had been referred to FPU by
visa line officers were randomly selected for site visits. All
officers were able to gain better insight into what constitutes good
and bad issuances from this area as well as how FPU investigations
help visa officers improve the accuracy of their adjudications. End
Background: what we knew
2. (SBU) Guangzhou FPU conducted a student visa validation study in
2007. That study revealed that of the nearly 4.8 percent of
students issued visas in Guangzhou who drop out of status in the
United States, nearly 10 percent of those students were from Fujian
province. Of those cases, 11.6% were from the provincial capital of
Fuzhou. Our objective was to check the accuracy of information
provided by applicants on the nonimmigrant visa application form
(DS-156) and to confirm that the adjudications by the officer made
3. (SBU) FPU gathered cases that had been referred by visa officers
over a two month period prior to the site visit. Cases consisted of
applicants from Fuzhou who had been interviewed, referred, and
investigated by Guangzhou FPU according to existing SOPs. Fifty-one
(51) cases that had either been issued or refused after FPU reported
its investigation results back to the visa officers were randomly
selected for on-site visits. The student applicant's home address
and the work addresses of their parents were then plotted on a map.
Five teams, each consisting of an officer and an FSN, including one
team comprised of the ARSO-I and the FSN investigator, then divided
the cases by geographic locations.
4. (SBU) The trip required coordination with the Foreign Affairs
Office (FAO), the provincial arm of the MFA, which sent a
representative to meet us at the airport. Except for an arrival
briefing on the procedure for issuing PRC official passports, FAO
officials were not involved in our site visits. We had hoped to
visit some of Fuzhou's top public schools to talk with
administrators. Unfortunately, the FAO did not allow us to visit,
claiming scheduling conflicts and H1N1 flu concerns.
5. (SBU) The teams first attempted to visit the applicant's residence.
If that was not possible, teams visited the parents' place of
employment. At the end of each day, team members convened to
discuss their findings and the cases to be investigated the
following day. The on-site exercise did not end once we returned
from Fuzhou. Back in Guangzhou, officers checked the SEVIS (viz.
current U.S. school enrollment) status of all students in the group
who had been issued visas. We also added case notes for each
applicant that we visited so that our findings will be available to
all visa officers should the applicant apply again.
6. (U) The 51 cases investigated consisted of 32 issued and 19 refused
cases. Of the issued cases, all of their SEVIS records have changed
to ACTIVE status, indicating that the applicant is presently
registered at a school or college and that an appropriate
adjudication was made.
7. (SBU) The 19 refused cases included many that an FPU investigation
had determined were inconclusive but with several signs pointing to
fraud. Indeed, a review of these cases shows that these doubts were
with good reason. For example, some had non-existent home
addresses, or business addresses that were actually the offices of a
visa "consultant." Others had home situations so dire as to put
into doubt the parent's ability to pay for the tuition. In one
case, a parent openly admitted to purchasing a set of fake documents
from a visa broker.
8. (U) A handful of refused cases, however, stood out. In two cases,
the students were found at home and gave reasons for wanting to
study that were consistent with the interview notes. The family
situation indicated a level of affluence likely sufficient to cover
the cost of studying in the United States. Two of the refused
applicants later reapplied for student visas. Interviewing officers
were able to review the notes from the site visit and approved the
visas of both applicants.
9. (SBU) The site visit exercise also confirmed the accuracy of some
basic student visa adjudication criteria. For example, many of the
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issued cases involved students who had graduated from a numbered
public high school, which have a good reputation in Fuzhou. Refused
students, on the other hand, often claimed to be attending an
English language training academy. Several refused cases also
failed to list an apartment number with their address. Because most
housing in Chinese cities is in high-rise apartments, an apartment
or floor number should be expected.
10. (SBU) All participants concluded that the Fuzhou site visits
yielded useful information about the cases that were adjudicated as
well as the criteria being used to decide future student visa cases.
We are now expanding the use of the site visit exercise. For
example, NIV officers have launched "Fraud Fridays." Once a month,
section workload permitting, a team of one officer and one FSN will
be given 3-5 cases to site visit. The goal is to help all visa
officers gain a better appreciation of the local environment and
thus strengthen their own adjudication technique while sharing
information with the other line officers. Thus, a similar process
of adding case notes and developing training materials will occur
after each site visit exercise.
11. (SBU) We will continue to explore whether and to what extent
China's economic transformation may be affecting the bona fides of
visa applicants in traditionally high immigration fraud areas.
Sending officer and FSN teams to conduct site visits on applicants
helps officers to obtain a "street level" view of how people live in
these cities. Facts on the application form can quickly be
confirmed, and notes taken to benefit future adjudications. End