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Cablegate: Immigration & Visa Fraud in and Out of Mozambique

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MAPUTO 000112

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS KFRD MZ KCOR KCRM
SUBJECT: IMMIGRATION & VISA FRAUD IN AND OUT OF MOZAMBIQUE


1. (U) Summary: Visa fraud in Mozambique continues to be
less prevalent than the otherwise high level of corruption
throughout the country would suggest. New anti-fraud
investigation and validation studies at post indicate,
however, that attempted non-immigrant visa fraud among third
country nationals is a growing problem, specifically among
the South Asian, West African and Cuban communities. Visa
fraud among emigrants to Mozambique and South Africa is also
on the rise, creating secondary effects at our visa window.
Post has, in response, altered its visa issuance practices
for certain third country national groups, and maintains a
watchful eye for further illegal immigration trends in
Mozambique.

2. (U) US Embassy Maputo experiences relatively low levels
of visa fraud at the consular window, particularly among
Mozambican applicants. Mozambicans within the United States
number less than 5,000 - the closest thing resembling a
Mozambican community can be found in New York/New Jersey -
and only a few nationals see non-immigrant visas as a ticket
to emigrate illegally to the U.S. To verify this
assumption, post conducted unofficial validation studies in
late 2003 on 50 of that year's Mozambican B1 and J1 visa
recipients who we considered to be high flight risk
candidates. Of these, 47 are confirmed returnees and only
one is a confirmed overstay - at least a 94% returnee rate.

3. (U) Mozambicans who wish to emigrate in search of
economic opportunity almost always target South Africa,
occasionally Portugal. The South African High Commission
consequently has a visa fraud problem very similar to what
U.S. Embassies see throughout much of Latin America and West
Africa, including false passports, residency documents,
identity cards, letters from employers, and bank account
statements. Much of the traffic place takes place in full
view of their gates. We see no signs of organized NIV
document fraud at our embassy, though we do see the
occasional false residency document or bank account
statement.

4. (U) The high rate of return and relatively low levels
of fraud among Mozambican NIV applicants contrast with
patterns detected among third-country national applicants.
Unofficial validation studies at post in 2003 have verified
the return of 5 of our last 20 approved Cuban NIV applicants
scheduled to return in the past year, 12 of 20 West Africans
(Nigeria 6/7, Guinea 2/7), and 13 of 20 Pakistanis. Based
on these results, post has become much more stringent on
issuing NIVs to Cubans, who formerly had a relatively high
approval rate based on the fact that most applicants were
doctors or engineers with long-term residency in the
country.

5. (U) (It should be stressed that prior to this
validation study, Post already had a long history of NIV
approval rates below 50% for West African applicants and,
post 9-11, the NIV approval rate for South Asians also had
fallen into the 35% range. Due to our already-low approval
rates, it was necessary to conduct our validation study on
all third-country applicants who had returned in the past 12-
16 months in order to have a viable sample size. Since our
timeframe for contacting returned TCN NIV applicants is much
longer than we used for Mozambican NIV applicants, it likely
increases and somewhat exaggerates the rate of non-response
among TCNs.)

6. (SBU) At the same time that Post has confirmed a high
rate of non-return among third-country applicants, it has
detected increased signs of organized immigration fraud by
third-country nationals within Mozambique. Since November
2003, Post has been approached three times by members of a
group of recent Indian and Pakistani immigrants to South
Africa/Mozambique, inquiring about the possibility of
acquiring U.S. non-immigrant visas for the group, which
numbers at least 33 strong. Background checks on the
handful of passports secured from our sources indicate that
the applicants received NIVs for South Africa or Mozambique
from Mumbai and Karachi. Many have applied for NIVs to the
U.S. in the past and been turned down. The leader of the
group has been identified as Hanifo Shiraz (sp?), a
Pakistani exporter-importer with residency in Nampula,
Mozambique and business interests in Pretoria. Mr. Shiraz
has been tied to the drug trade by various sources, but his
name does not show up on INK, and our knowledge of him is
limited.

7. (SBU) We became aware of this potential NIV fraud ring
at the same time that a Beira-based newspaper, Zambeze, ran
an article detailing NIV fraud at the Mozambican Consulate
in Karachi. According to the author, the Mozambican consul,
Abdul Kalid Tawab, by some accounts a Pakistani national and
by others a Mozambican of Pakistani descent, had been
detained for selling non-immigrant visas at a rate of $500-
$800 per visa, presumably on every visa issued. The Karachi
Consulate typically issues about 400 visas per month. No
names of the offending officials were listed, and subsequent
Embassy contact with the newspaper was unable to unearth any
further information. Contacts within the Mozambican
Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Immigration confirmed that
visa fraud had been a problem in Karachi, probably for a few
years, but insisted the level was greatly exaggerated, and
said that the offending official had been removed.
Immigration officials at the Maputo airport insist that they
have turned away many travelers with false visas from
Karachi, but offered no proof.

8. (SBU) Over the past two years, the South Asian
(especially Pakistani) community has grown considerably in
Mozambique. The Director of Immigration indicated to us
that his offices have been receiving up to 500 new Pakistani
applicants for residency per month over the past several
months. (He did not know the specific number.) Nampula
city has seen a particularly large spike; local officials
estimate that the Pakistani community has doubled in
population in the past 2-3 years. The city has also become
a hub for African immigrants from a wide range of countries,
particularly Nigeria. New South Asian residents generally
enter the country through Maputo airport and then migrate to
Nampula. Land routes from Malawi and Tanzania have been
noted as the most common means of illegal entry for
Africans. In addition, post has noticed that the Nampula
Immigration office has become increasingly corrupt, issuing
improper visas and residency documents to South Asians and
West Africans at a price (and also forcing Americans to pay
bribes for their residency documents). Some of these TCNs
have appeared at our visa window in recent months, and much
of the relatively limited NIV fraud found in Mozambique
originates from the Nampula area.

9. (SBU) Many of these TCNs are content to live and work
in Mozambique, and Indians and Pakistanis are particularly
active in trading a wide range of goods. They have also
made inroads into the money exchange and banking sphere in
Nampula. Others are looking to move onward. The South
African High Commission in Maputo estimates that NIV
applications from Pakistanis and Indians have grown by about
10% in each of the past two years. Applications from third-
country Africans have risen at a slower rate.

10. (SBU) Larger numbers of South Asians and West Africans
(and Mozambicans) bypass the visa route to South Africa
altogether, traveling illegally by land. Many pass straight
through the border at Ressano Garcia-Komatipoort in vans,
via smugglers who may be South African, Mozambican, or, in
some instances, recent South Asian immigrants tied to Mr.
Shiraz or others. The typical fee involves 500R to 800R to
the smugglers, with some of that money paid to border
guards. (The International Office for Migration reports
that traffickers in women and children will pay 150R to
border guards in order to allow a group of Mozambican women
to crawl under a fence 2-3 kilometers away from the border.
Bribes to drive a group straight through the border run much
higher. This same price range probably holds for smuggling
of South Asians.) The Swaziland border at Naamacha is
equally porous for those wishing to cross in vans, and
perhaps easier to cross on foot, but requires a second
crossing into South Africa, and is therefore less favored.
Other more creative methods of entry have been noted, such
as driving to the beaches of Ponta do Ouro, and crossing to
South Africa by foot. It is very likely that South Africa
is the end destination for the vast majority of these
desperate migrants; very few appear to have the financing or
the inclination to attempt a jump to the United States.

11. (U) The patterns of migration from Mozambique to South
Africa resemble those used by traffickers in women and
children, with an apparently lesser emphasis on Ponta do
Ouro as a migration point. It should be pointed out,
however, that we have no indication that South Asian and
West African immigrants have been the perpetrators or
victims of trafficking in women and children. In addition,
post has not seen any evidence that intending illegal
immigrants from South Asia, West Africa, or Cuba have
engaged in any anti-American activities, per se. The worst
that can be said is that the leaders of the illegal
immigration rings are allegedly involved in the drug trade
and other forms of contraband.

12. (U) Post continues to be vigilant of intending NIV
fraud, especially as our percentage of NIV applicants from
TCNs continues to rise, from 20% in 2002 to 28% in 2003 -
with an especially high percentage in the later months of
the year. (This spike is due in part to the Department's
decision in April 2003 to extend the validity of Mozambican
visas from three-month, single-entry visas to one-year,
multiple-entry, which has stopped the growth rate in
Mozambican NIV applications.) We have already taken
measures to significantly curtail NIV issuance to TCNs, and
to nearly prohibit issuance of NIVs to any third country
national that has not proven long-term residency within the
country. Finally, post has made strengthening of
Mozambique's border security a mission-wide priority, which
will be reflected as one of the top goals within our Mission
Performance Plan.
LA LIME

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