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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09YEREVAN154 2009-03-04 07:55:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Yerevan
Cable title:  

EMBASSY YEREVAN VALIDATION STUDY RESULTS FOR B1/B2

Tags:   CVIS CMGT ASEC SMIG KFRD AM 
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VZCZCXYZ0006
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHYE #0154/01 0630755
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 040755Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY YEREVAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8767
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1609
RUEHFT/AMCONSUL FRANKFURT 1888
RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI 2390
RUEHKB/AMEMBASSY BAKU 1151
RUEHPNH/NVC PORTSMOUTH 0473
					  UNCLAS YEREVAN 000154 

DEPARTMENT FOR CA/VO/F/P (MEEARL), CA/FPP (RBILLINGS), CA/FPP
PASS KCC (FPM) AND DHS, DS/CR/V/G, EUR/CARC (CWRIGHT)
MOSCOW FOR USCIS (SSINCLAIR-SMITH)
FRANKFURT FOR RCO (KBROUGHAM)
TBILISI FOR CONS (LHENDERSON)
BAKU FOR CONS (WGRAY)
NVC FOR FPM (BAUSTIN)

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS CMGT ASEC SMIG KFRD AM
SUBJECT: EMBASSY YEREVAN VALIDATION STUDY RESULTS FOR B1/B2
ISSUANCES OF FALL 2007

REF: A) 08 YEREVAN 441 B) 07 YEREVAN 349



1. (SBU) Summary. Eight percent of tourist visa holders in
Yerevan overstayed their visa in 2007, according to a
validation study of nonimmigrant B1/B2 visa applicants who
received visas from September 1 - November 30, 2007. This is
an improvement from the previous year's overstay rate of 11%.
Elderly female applicants continue to overstay at a rate
significantly higher than all other applicant groups. For the
period reviewed, Yerevan's overall B1/B2 refusal rate was 62%.
End Summary.



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


METHODOLOGY


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





2. (U) A total of 866 B1/B2 visas were issued in Yerevan from
September 1, 2007 through November 30, 2007. Using the DHS
Arrival and Departure Information System (ADIS) and targeted
phone calls, Yerevan's Fraud Prevention Unit reviewed the
travel history of 812 of these 866 B1/B2 issuances who entered
the United States.



3. (U) Yerevan's previous two validation studies (reftel)
surveyed B1/B2 issuances from September 1 - November 30. For
comparison purposes, we once again focused on this date range
which includes little seasonal variation in terms of type of
issuances, issuance rates, or purpose of travel. The standard
visa issuance for Armenian passport holders is a single entry,
three-month validity visa (for reciprocity and cost reasons),
so B1/B2 travelers issued between September 1 and November 30,
2007 should have returned from their U.S. visit by September
1, 2008.



4. (U) Yerevan's Fraud Prevention Unit (FPU) exported from the
Consolidated Consular Database all non-immigrant visa
issuances from Yerevan. FPU then sent this file to CA/FPP to
be run against the DHS databases ADIS (Arrival Departure
Information System) and ATS (Automatic Targeting System). The
returned data was sorted by visa class, resulting in the 812
B1/B2 records reviewed. Arrival and departure records for the
same traveler, logged within six months of one another, was
considered evidence of good visa use, and on these records no
further action was taken. For records with no recorded
departure, FPU attempted to call the applicants to confirm
whether they were still in the United States or,
alternatively, had exited the United States but forgotten to
submit their I-94 Arrival-Departure Record to Customs and
Border Control at flight check-in. For applicants who had
returned to Armenia without a departure record, FPU requested
that they present their passports at the Consular Section for
further verification of return. FPU's validation survey found
that approximately 20% of travelers without departure records
had, in fact, returned to Armenia.



5. (U) Post counted anyone who had not departed the United
States after their maximum authorized six-month stay as an
overstay. ADIS records reflect extensions or change of
status, so post felt confident counting anyone who had not
departed the United States after their maximum authorized stay
(typically six months) as an overstay. A number of these
overstays, however, could still have pending, approved or
denied adjustment of status requests, as discussed below (see
paragraph 15).



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


ANALYSIS


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





6. (SBU) The study showed that of the 812 B1/B2 travelers
reviewed, 747 returned within six months (92%), while 65
travelers (8%) overstayed their tourist visa issuance. Fifty-
six applicants (6% of those issued) who received tourist visas
did not use their visa. This percentage is higher than the
previous year's 4% of issuances that did not use their tourist
visa.



7. (SBU) These overstay results are an improvement over the
most recent B1/B2 validation studies conducted for the same
period in 2005 and 2006. The overstay rate improved from 11%


for the 2006 period to 8% for the current 2007 period
reviewed.



8. (SBU) Post's overall refusal rate for B1/B2 visa applicants
for the reviewed period of September 1 - November 30, 2007 was
62% (NIV report 44). Post's B1/B2 refusal rate for the two
prior years was 65% (2006) and 57% (2005).



9. (SBU) Women comprised 54% of post's 812 B1/B2 issuances,
with men comprising only 46%. This slight gender imbalance
among issuances may reflect the conventional wisdom at post
that, due to traditional gender roles and poor employment
opportunities at home, Armenian men are more likely than
Armenian women to apply for tourist visas in order to work
illegally as migrant workers in the United States. This may
create for male applicants a higher standard that must be
overcome than that for female applicants, for whom family in
Armenia may be viewed as a more compelling tie. Below is a
side-by-side comparison of the distribution of the 812 B1/B2
issued travelers versus the 65 B1/B2 overstays, when sorted by
gender and age.

---
All B1/B2 Issued Travelers | B1/B2 Overstays
Gender>> Female Male | Female Male
0-15 2% 2% | 3% 0%
16-25 7% 5% | 9% 5%
26-35 11% 11% | 11% 12%
36-45 7% 7% | 6% 6%
46-55 13% 9% | 12% 6%
56+ 14% 11% | 22% 8%
Total 54% 46% | 63% 37%
---



13. (SBU) The table shows that although women comprised 54% of
B1/B2 issued travelers, they were a significantly higher 63%
of all B1/B2 overstays. The age and gender distribution is
largely similar among all issued travelers and B1/B2 overstays
except in the 56+ Female category, where this demographic
jumps from 14% of all B1/B2 issued travelers to 22% of B1/B2
overstays.



14. (SBU) The above data shows that women 56 years of age and
older, i.e. the "grandma set" demographic, are much more
likely to overstay than other issued demographics. This is
not a new discovery. Post recognizes that it continues to
struggle with determining what constitutes sufficiently strong
ties for this demographic group. Anecdotally, age, set ways,
and family ties to Armenia alone do not seem enough to keep
this cohort from overstaying. Post conjectures that warmer
weather, a Yerevan-like environment among the Glendale,
California diaspora (where nearly all applicants want to go),
and better healthcare from the California state Medicaid
program Medi-Cal are significant inducements for some in this
demographic group to overstay. For these reasons, post should
vet these applicants just as stringently as younger, less
established applicants. Conversely, post notes that a
disproportionate number of our complaints are for refusals of
elderly women (with e-mails usually written by the U.S.
citizen son-in-law of the applicant).



15. (SBU) As noted above, post considered any traveler who
stayed greater than six months as an overstay for the purposes
of this study. This overstay cohort thus includes those who
applied for adjustments of status while in the United States.
Post considers these adjustments of status as derogatory for
the purpose of this study because they are actions taken by
applicants who did not keep to their travel plans as expressed
to the Consular Officer at the time of their visa interview.
Of the 65 overstays in this study, 22 travelers (34%) applied
for adjustments of status. Four applications were denied,
four were pending and 14 were approved as of this writing. Of
the approved applications, seven were for B1/B2 extensions,
four were for CR6 spouses of American citizens, and three were
for IR0 parents of American citizens. Five of these approved
adjustments (all three of the IR0s and two of the B1/B2
extensions), were granted to overstays within the 14 person
"grandma set".






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


COMMENT


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





16. (SBU) Post is heartened by the improved overstay rate of
8%, but realizes the low overstay rate comes in part thanks to
a high refusal rate that for the studied period reached 65%.
Post will continue to carefully review older female
applicants, cognizant of their higher propensity to overstay
despite seemingly strong social and family ties to Armenia.
Post thanks CAA/FP for its support in conducting this
verification study.

YOVANOVITCH