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Cablegate: Jakarta F1 Visa Validation Study

VZCZCXRO9083
RR RUEHJS
DE RUEHJA #1706/01 2540035
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 100035Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0032
INFO RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 2270
RUEHJA/AMCONSUL MEDAN

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 JAKARTA 001706

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR CA/FPP, CA/EX, CA/VO/F/P, EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS CMGT KFRD ID
SUBJECT: Jakarta F1 Visa Validation Study

REF: Jakarta 1192

1. SUMMARY: The Consular Section of US Embassy Jakarta recently
conducted a student visa validation study. The study covered F1
visa issuances for the six-month period December 1, 2006, to May 31,
2007, and was based on queries of Student Exchange and Visitor
Information System (SEVIS) status within the Consolidated Consular
Database (CCD) followed by queries of the Department of Homeland
SecurityQs (DHS) Arrival-Departure Information System (ADIS). The
overstay rate was 4 percent. However, an additional 13 percent of
students adjusted status within 6 months of their arrival to the
U.S., raising concerns about the legitimacy of their student intent.
The study found that many applicants who attended one English
Language School violated U.S. immigration laws. The data show a
significant decrease in the overstay rate and number of suspect
students during the last month of the study period, which was the
first month of significantly tightened adjudication standards for
English language school students. This reduced overstay rate and
reduced rate of quick adjustments of status in May 2007 mirrors a
similar trend revealed in the B1/B2 study of the same period
(reftel). END SUMMARY.

-----------
Methodology
-----------

2. The study was restricted to F1 visa issuances to Indonesian
applicants. The sample was selected from issuances during the
six-month period December 1, 2006, to May 31, 2007, the same study
period as a recent B1/B2 validation study (reftel).

3. In the study period, 753 F1 visas were issued. The random sample
selection was done in accordance with instructions in the Consular
Affairs/Fraud Prevention Program (CA/FPP) document "How to use the
CCD reports and Excel Spreadsheet to generate random samples of visa
applicants for use in a validation study". The number sampled (567
applicants) was based upon a statistical formula for calculating
sample sizes. The sample number provides a standard +/- 2.1 interval
for an overstay rate of 10 percent as suggested by FPP.

4. Conoff used the Consolidated Consular Database (CCD) to check the
Student Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS) status of
all the students in the sample. If the student was in "Active" or
"Initial" status, the student was assumed to be enrolled in a valid
program or in the process of transferring from one valid program to
another. If the student was in any other SEVIS status, Post looked
them up in the Department of Homeland SecurityQs (DHS)
Arrival-Departure Information System (ADIS) to help determine if the
applicant never travelled, returned to Indonesia, or was still in
the U.S.:

-- A SEVIS status of "Cancelled" means the applicant failed to
register, and Conoff tried to confirm that the student never
travelled;

-- A SEVIS status of "Terminated" means the academic program was not
completed, and Conoff tried to confirm that the student went to the
U.S. and returned to Indonesia;

-- If the SEVIS status was "Completed", Conoff tried to confirm the
student returned to Indonesia or transferred (sometimes with a
different SEVIS ID) to another academic program;

-- A SEVIS status of "Deactivated" means the student should have
another SEVIS record at a different institution, which Conoff tried
to confirm.

5. By comparing the SEVIS history and the dates of SEVIS status
changes with the studentQs travel history in ADIS, Conoff could make
a reasonable assessment of the student's present status. In many
cases ADIS also reports if the traveler adjusted status to become an
immigrant or claim asylum. If the student entered the U.S., and
ADIS reported that the individual adjusted status, and the student
was not active in SEVIS for 6 months after entry, then for purposes
of this study the traveler was counted as a "quick adjustment of
status." (Note: Six-month cutoff was chosen arbitrarily. End Note.)
Student adjustments of status are common and not inherently
problematic, but if a student applicant arrived in the US and
applied to be an immigrant within 6 months of entry and did not
maintain their student status, they likely misrepresented themselves
as students at the time of the visa interview. Though not
technically overstays, since they are in legal status, these
applicants are problematic, since they appear to have abused the
student visa process.

--------
Findings
--------


JAKARTA 00001706 002 OF 003


6. Table of findings:

SEVIS Status
Active: 359 (63.3%)
Cancelled: 38 (6.7%)
Terminated: 88 (15.5%)
Initial: 27 (4.8%)
Completed: 54 (9.5%)
Deactivated: 1 (0.2%)

Total: 567 (100%)

Presumed Status Based on Analysis
Active Students: 390 (69%)
Returned: 59 (10%)
Never travelled: 6 (1%)
Adjusted status after more than 6 months: 28 (5%)
Adjusted status within 6 months of arriving: 60 (11%)
Likely overstay: 24 (4%)

7. Breakdown of Problematic Students:

Sum of Overstay Percentage and Adjusted Status within 6 months of
arrival (AOS-quick) Percentage:
December 2006 Q- 6% (overstay) + 7% (AOS-quick) = 13%
January 2007 -- 6% (overstay) + 8% (AOS-quick) = 14%
February 2007 -Q 3% (overstay) + 17% (AOS-quick) = 20%
March 2007 -- 7% (overstay) + 13% (AOS-quick) = 20%
April 2007 -- 2% (overstay) + 29% (AOS-quick) = 31%
May 2007 -- 0% (overstay) + 4% (AOS-quick) = 4%

Average Age (yrs): 23.71

Gender: Male 47% Female 53%

--------
Analysis
--------

8. Though the presumed overstay rate was only 4 percent, the total
number of students who adjusted status was 17 percent. Student
adjustments of status are legal and not uncommon, especially after
years in the U.S. as a student (e.g., adjustment to H1B worker
status after graduation and practical training). However, the
majority of students (13 percent of total) who arrived in the U.S.
and adjusted status did so within 6 months of arriving, while the
remaining 4 percent adjusted to immigrant status after a longer
period of time in the U.S.

9. During the study period, various visa brokers were facilitating
Indonesians posing as students to enter the U.S. Other applicants
may have taken similar malafide approaches independently.
Considering the 85 cumulative overstays and quick adjustments of
immigrant status (cumulative questionable students), 21 students (25
percent) registered at various "ELS Language Centers" around the
country, and 10 students (12 percent) went to Concord English
Language Center (ELC) -- a combined 37 percent of the cumulative
questionable students registered with these two English language
programs.

10. FPP notified posts early in 2008 that the Concord ELC Program
was a front to facilitate foreign nationals coming to the U.S. to
work illegally. Jakarta FPU had also been investigating fraudulent
cases related to Concord and other language schools for months
before. In April 2008, DHS shut down the Concord English Language
Center. ELS Programs and Concord ELC aside, the schools with the
highest cumulative questionable students were Arizona State (6
students), Cal State Chico (5 students), and Cal State Fullerton and
Longbeach (4 students each).

----------
Conclusion
----------

11. This is the first documented F1 validation study at Post. The
percentage of students in active SEVIS status was lower than
expected Q 67 percent. However, an average of 77 percent of
students issued visas during the study period are either still in
school or returned to Indonesia. In May 2007, this percentage was
much higher at 94 percent. This is likely due to tightened
adjudicating standards, a reduction in issuances to English language
students, and the early summer influx of students applying to attend
community colleges, associate degree programs, and 4-year college
programs.

12. COMMENT: Post recognizes that this validation study methodology
has weaknesses, but given the available data, it is a useful
indicator of student visa trends. Post access to ADIS proved an
invaluable resource in determining the travel history of applicants.

JAKARTA 00001706 003 OF 003


Post acknowledges that ADIS is far from completely accurate, but
coupled with SEVIS and the CCD, the resource helped indicate when
students arrived, when and if they left, and if they adjusted
status. Consular management has discussed the findings with the
adjudicating consular officers to improve interviewing and
adjudicating skills. END COMMENT.

HUME

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