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Cablegate: Resumption of Nonimmigrant Visa Services

VZCZCXRO6352
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHFN #0131 0541611
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 231611Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY FREETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0816
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHFT/AMCONSUL FRANKFURT 1290

UNCLAS FREETOWN 000131

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR CA/VO, CA/EX

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS CMGT KPAO SL
SUBJECT: RESUMPTION OF NONIMMIGRANT VISA SERVICES

REF: Mullarkey-Cantrell-Nystrom 12/18/06 e-mail

1. Embassy Freetown publicly announced on February 20 that it had
resumed nonimmigrant visa processing after a ten-year hiatus.
Residents of Sierra Leone no longer must travel to neighboring
Guinea to apply for nonimmigrant visas at Embassy Conakry as they
have done since Freetown last processed visas in 1997. Embassy
Dakar will continue to process immigrant visas for Sierra Leoneans
and Embassy Abidjan will continue to process diversity immigrant
visas.

2. As detailed in Reftel, post's consular section began processing
a limited number of nonimmigrant visa cases after moving into its
New Embassy Compound (NEC) in December 2006, gradually increasing
the number of cases processed over the last two months. Since
arriving in May 2006, Conoff has coordinated closely with CA/VO/F/P
and CA/EX to prepare to resume NIV services in Freetown, and
appreciates CA's outstanding support.

3. The current instability in Guinea precludes Sierra Leoneans from
traveling to Conakry to apply for nonimmigrant visas, so the
resumption of NIV services in Freetown was welcomed even more
enthusiastically than anticipated. Ambassador Thomas Hull delivered
key remarks during the press conference and emphasized that "the
non-immigrant visa process is not a lottery" and encouraged only
those that believe they are qualified to apply. The Ambassador also
stressed that neither the Ambassador nor any other person in the
Embassy can influence the visa process under U.S. law.

4. The consular section is employing the Department's new online
NIV appointment system and offsite MRV fee collection to manage its
workload and increase efficiency. Embassy Dakar is sending a Senior
Consular Assistant for two weeks in March to further train staff and
provide technical assistance, and post looks forward to the visit of
Regional Consular Officer, Charles Wintheiser, on March 19.

5. Media reaction to the NIV resumption has been overwhelmingly
positive with all major newspapers headlining the announcement, and
radio and TV stations giving extensive coverage. Newspaper
commentaries have praised this development: "We applaud the United
States government for its continuous assistance to the people of
Sierra Leone," and "Sierra Leoneans nation-wide jubilated yesterday
when they learnt that the United States Embassy has resumed the
processing of non-immigrant visas. This will finally end the
nightmare of hundreds of Sierra Leoneans who had not only been
stranded in Conakry, but duped by unscrupulous hustlers who promised
them visas for thousands of dollars. We thank the American
Government."

6. We would like to thank Embassy Conakry in particular and other
neighboring posts for their enduring support over the last ten years
processing nonimmigrant visa applications for residents of Sierra
Leone.

HULL

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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