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Cablegate: Czech Republic: Fy2006 B Visa Validation Study Results

VZCZCXRO7460
RR RUEHPOD
DE RUEHPG #1324/02 3591808
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251808Z DEC 07 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY PRAGUE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9927
INFO RUCNMEU/EU INTEREST

UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 02 PRAGUE 001324

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR CA/VO/F/P AND CA/FPP
DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR DS/CR/VF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS KFRD ASEC EZ
SUBJECT: CZECH REPUBLIC: FY2006 B VISA VALIDATION STUDY RESULTS

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* Missing Section 001 *
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PRAGUE 00001324 002 OF 002


6. As to the question of average length of stay, post was surprised
to find that only 1.5 percent of travelers reported staying longer
than three months and would therefore have required a visa even
under the VWP. Nearly 81 percent of those queried reported staying
less than one month. Nearly 18 percent stayed 1-3 months. Consular
officers note that anecdotal evidence contradicts these statistics.
A relatively high number of visa applicants indicate on their
applications or during the interview that they intend to stay more
than a month. It also is common for retired Czechs go to visit their
relatives in the United States and stay 3-6 months. One particular
case from early December proves the point: A young non-immigrant
visa applicant, who was gainfully employed and "looked good on
paper," indicated on her DS-156 that she had been to the United
States one time several years ago for two weeks. The consular
officer was about to issue when he saw a CLASS hit indicating the
applicant was an eight-year overstay and just returned to the Czech
Republic this past year after self-deportation. On our validation
study, she would have been classified as a "return" with a stay of
two weeks.

STRONGEST INDICATORS: REGION, AGE, GENDER
--------- ----------- ------- ---- ------

7. Post grouped and evaluated validation study results by gender,
age, region of residence, and occupation. Of the six confirmed
overstays, four were from the economically depressed area of
Northern Moravia, four were between 26 and 35, and five were male.
This (save for gender) fits the profile of applicants who demand
stronger scrutiny during interviews: those who have little higher
education, live where there is high unemployment, and are relatively
young. While the Czech Republic's economy is strong and its currency
is gaining on both the dollar and the euro, a Prague newspaper
report from November 2007 notes that Northern Moravia has an average
unemployment rate of 10.2 percent, in sharp contrast to Prague's 2.4
percent and a nationwide average of 6.2. In addition, wages are
still lower in the country compared to the United States and the
rest of the EU. But the gap is narrowing. As wages increase, as
unemployment in places like Prague decreases significantly, and as
the currency strengthens (from 25 Czech crowns per dollar at the
beginning of FY-06 to 18 today), illegal work in the United States
looks less attractive to young people.

COMMENT:
--------

8. The overstay rate of 0.6 percent, though lower than expected, is
well within the general positive trend of the last few years (2.4
percent in 2004, and 2.2 in 2005). This assessment also tracks well
with the decline of the official B-visa refusal rate 11.7 percent in
FY-04 to 6.7 percent in FY-07. The main take-away point of the
validation study is that Czechs have a continuously improving low
overstay rate that puts them well within the new guidelines for the
VWP.

THOMPSON-JONES

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