Cablegate: Halifax Annual Certification of Consular Management
DE RUEHHA #0070/01 3151935
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101935Z NOV 08
FM AMCONSUL HALIFAX
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1334
INFO RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0563
RUEHHA/AMCONSUL HALIFAX 1422
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HALIFAX 000070
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CMGT CVIS CASC KFRD CA
SUBJECT: HALIFAX ANNUAL CERTIFICATION OF CONSULAR MANAGEMENT
REF: STATE 114455
1. In accordance with reftel, Halifax conducted its annual
review of consular management controls on November 10, 2008.
Harold D. Foster, FS-01, Consul General certifies successful
completion of the management review and that post is in full
a. Standard Operating Procedures: I have reviewed and confirm
that the consular officer is familiar with and has access to the
basic references and instructions including 7 and 9 FAM, 7
FAH-1, the Consular Management Handbook, CA's SOP cables, and
CAWeb (both the unclassified and classified sites). No one is
using training materials as a reference in place of the
reference materials listed above.
b. Consular Shared Tables (CST) Management: I have reviewed
and confirm that: (1) only consular section employees have
consular roles and that adjudicatory and management roles are
limited to American consular officers; (2) all active users are
in fact at post with a need to access the system and their
particular role(s), and that users who no longer have a need for
access have been switched to inactive status, and that any test
or anonymous accounts have been deactivated; (3) users are
authorized system access only at the appropriate level; and, (4)
user passwords have been periodically reset (at a minimum every
six months) and are randomly chosen by the individual so that no
one else, including the system and CST administrators, knows the
c. Physical Access: I confirm that physical access to the
working areas of the consular section, and to consular computers
and workstations in particular, are controlled and, in general,
limited only to consular section employees and those whose
responsibilities allow access. FSN personnel are not present
outside of office hours without a cleared American and
controlled items are secured if an American consular officer is
not present. Consulate General Halifax is located in a small
office suite. The office's open floor-plan design does not
allow for doors and restricted access to the consular section.
Non-consular employees must frequently pass through the section,
but they do not work or linger in the section. Access to the
section is particularly limited during visa interviewing hours.
The Consular Section Chief has line of sight control over the
entire consular section from her workspace.
d. Access to Personally Identifiable Information (PII): I
confirm that procedures are in place to assure that the
collection of Personally Identifiable Information (PII), such as
date and place of birth and social security numbers, is kept to
a minimum and such information is appropriately protected. I
confirm that access to consular systems containing such
information, including PIERs, IV, NIV and ACS, is restricted to
those with a legitimate need to see such information and that
records are only accessed in connection with official duties. I
confirm that there have been no breaches or incidents involving
loss, theft, unauthorized access or compromise of PII at this
post, but that such incidents would be reported as described in
Department Notice 2008-06-134 of June 25, 2008.
e. Inventory Count and Reconciliation of Accountable Consular
Items: The Consular Section Chief Elizabeth Schwefler(ACO),
together with the Consul General Harold Foster (backup ACO), has
performed a comprehensive physical inventory of accountable
consular supplies (passports, passport foils, CBRAs, Visa Foils
and non-expendable items such as seals and stamps) and
documented the results of that inventory in the Accountable
Items (AI) module for visa foils, CRBAs, passport books and
passport foils, and for all other accountable items in a memo
for the files. I certify that the physical inventory reconciles
with inventory records, and that there are no discrepancies.
f. Control and Reconciliation of Accountable Items: I confirm
that internal section procedures are in place, that accountable
consular supplies are controlled, handled, destroyed, and
accounted for in accordance with 7 FAH-1 H-600. AI is being used
for reconciling daily usage of all accountable consular supplies
including passports, CRBAs, and NIV foils. Post has had no
instances of missing controlled items in the past 12 months.
g. Destruction Log: I have reviewed and confirm that post is
properly destroying (or returning to the Department for
destruction) spoiled or unusable or obsolete controlled items
(passport books, CRBAs, visa foils) and recording their
witnessed destruction in AI.
h. Cash Accountability: I have reviewed and confirm that the
ACO, Consular Cashier, and alternates have been formally
designated using the model letters found under tools on the
Consular Fees page on CAWeb and are fully familiar with the
instructions in Consular Management Handbook chapter 7 FAH-1
HALIFAX 00000070 002 OF 003
H-700. The ACO has completed Consular Management at a Small Post
at FSI, which included ACO responsibilities. She will enroll in
the online course PC 417 for refresher training. The Consular
Cashier and alternates will complete PC 419 as soon as it is
available online. I confirm that accounting and reconciliation
procedures for consular fees, including MRV fees, are properly
carried out. The ACRS End of Day report and Daily Accounting
Sheet (Exhibit 7-5 in CMH 700) is completed daily. At the end
of the month the Daily Accounting Sheet is forwarded to the
post's FMO for verification against FSC's record of OF-158
receipts, and signed by both the ACO (Consul) and FMO (Consul
General). The Daily Accounting Sheet for the past twelve months
is on file in the ACO's records. In the past 12 months, there
have been no discrepancies at this post.
i. Periodic Comparison of MRV Fees and NIV Applications: I have
reviewed and confirm that the periodic comparison of MRV fees
and NIV applications is carried out as prescribed in 7 FAH-1
H-744, H-752 e and f, and under tools on the Consular Fee page
on CAWeb. All NIV Application fees are paid at an off-site
location. Data on fees collected and applications received are
also forwarded monthly to Ottawa for Mission-wide
reconciliation. Cancelled receipts are filed with the DS-156
j. Referral System: I have reviewed and confirm that post visa
referral procedures are in compliance with 9 FAM Appendix K and
06 State 180489. Post follows Mission referral policy and
procedures that are documented in writing and issued to post on
the authority of the Ambassador. All referrals are signed by
agency and section heads as appropriate, referral information is
captured in the NIV system, referral forms are scanned into the
NIV system, and consular managers periodically review referral
reports to identify trends and possible areas of concern.
Briefings are required before officers can submit referrals. No
visa referrals were done in Halifax in the past 12 months.
Referrals from within the consular section would be handled and
documented identically to those from outside the section.
k. Training: I have reviewed and confirm that American and
locally employed staff are adequately trained for their
responsibilities, including awareness of fraud in applications
for visas and other benefits. Newcomers to the consular section
are trained in accordance with SOP 73. The ACO has completed
the on-line user training for ACRS.
l. Standards of Employee Conduct: I have reviewed and confirm
that all consular employees, American and FSN, are familiar with
the standards of ethical conduct expected of them. The consular
officer has reviewed the Department's Standards of Ethical
Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, and we have
discussed the applicability of these ethical standards in the
consular context. I have reviewed post operations with all
personnel to determine that there are no influences being
brought to bear on the visa or passport process that would lead
to any perception of impropriety. Post follows the Mission's
written gift policy consistent with Department standards.
Consular officers must follow the same procedures as all other
Mission employees when advocating on behalf of an applicant. A
consular officer who is personally acquainted with an applicant
must recuse himself or herself from adjudicating that person's
visa application to the extent possible at a two-officer post.
m. Namecheck and Clearance Reviews: I have reviewed and confirm
that all namecheck returns are given a rigorous review and that
consistent standards are applied in determining when a hit is
close enough to warrant further action. I confirm that when
insufficient information is present to rule out a potential
match to a namecheck hit, that hit is treated as if it were a
n. Visa Lookout Accountability (VLA): I have reviewed and
confirm that VLA procedures are in place and that VLA
certification is up to date. All issuing officers at post fully
understand VLA provisions and requirements, as well as the
consequences for failing to comply with VLA procedures and
supervisors spot check issuances to verify that VLA requirements
were met by reviewing any with CAT I hits.
o. Intake, Interview and Screening: I have reviewed visa
intake, interview, and document review procedures and confirm
that post is in full compliance with the Department's
instruction (9 FAM 41.102 and 41.103 procedural notes and other
guidance). I have reviewed and confirm that screening of
applications by locally employed staff does not encroach on
adjudication. Screening is only for completeness of application
and does not extend to asking questions or making notes on the
application that could be interpreted as influencing
adjudication. LES employees do not turn away NIV applicants who
have paid the appropriate fees and have a completed application,
even if they think additional documents will be required. Such
cases are adjudicated by an officer and denied under 221g if
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p. Oversight of Processing: I have reviewed and confirm that
adequate supervision of processing is exercised by American
officers. The Consular Section Chief has line of sight
supervision of the print station.
q. Biometrics: I have reviewed and confirm that fingerprinting
for biometric purposes is collected by LE staff and verified by
an American Officer, and that post is in compliance with
Bio/Visa Enrollment policy and procedures (05 State 191641)
r. Interview and Adjudication: I have reviewed and confirm that
all visa applicants for whom a personal appearance is required
per 05 State 0092176 and 9 FAM 41.102 are being interviewed.
s. Photo Standards: I have reviewed 9 FAM 41.113 procedural
notes and the photo guide on www.travel.state.gov and confirm
that post is only entering recent photos of the applicant and is
rigorously applying standards for NIV and passport photos.
t. Review of Visa Refusals and Issuances: I have ensured that
NIV refusals and issuances are being reviewed using the approved
electronic NIV review system (in CCD). The CG reviews the
Consul's refusals and issuances daily in accordance with 07
State 076951, 9 FAM 41.113 (1) and PN18.1 and.2; and 9 FAM
41.121 and PN1.2-8 and .2-9. There have been no supervisory
overcomes in the past 12 months.
u. Visa Shopping: I have reviewed post procedures to ensure
there are practices in place that discourage visa shopping.
Virtually all visa applicants in Halifax are TCNs. Post does
not maintain any sort of NIV written re-application process.
v. Files: I have reviewed and confirm that consular files are
being retained in accordance with the Record Disposition
Schedule and that visa files in particular are being retained
per instructions in 9 FAM Appendix F. I confirm that all
consular personnel understand that visa records are to be
safeguarded in accordance with INA Section 222(f), to prevent
unauthorized disclosure in any form, including via the internet
or other public media. I confirm that NIV records are being
filed chronologically per instructions in SOP 8 (03 State 70558).
w. Passports and CRBAs: I have reviewed and confirm that post
procedures and controls are in place to ensure the accuracy and
integrity of U.S. passports, CRBAS, and other nationality
determinations. Post conducts passport name checks for all
passport services, including adding visa pages. Consular
managers continue to audit passport cases
adjudicated at post. In particular, procedures are in place to
ensure accurate annotation of citizenship and identity
documentation; annotation related to name clearances,
endorsements and limitations; clarification of illegible entries
and correction of inaccuracies; and fraud detection.
x. Fraud Prevention Programs: I have reviewed and confirm that
appropriate management controls are in effect for the fraud
prevention program. The sole consular officer has been
designated and trained as Fraud Prevention Manager. There are
procedures to safeguard the role of the FSN investigator by
prohibiting her from influencing decisions on eligibility.
Halifax has never conducted a fraud prevention field trip.
y. Classified Access: I confirm that the consular officer has
access to classified systems and that she checks classified
e-mail at least once a week. The limited amount of classified
traffic handled by post makes it impractical to open the vault
to check e-mail on a daily basis.
z. Consular Agents: Halifax does not supervise any consular
3. Halifax is a two-officer post. The Consul fills all of the
primary consular management roles and the Consul General serves
as supervisor and/or backup.