Cablegate: Cooperation with Canadian Embassy in Bogota On Visa
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS BOGOTA 003703
DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/AND, CA/VO/F/P, CA/FPP, CA/VO/L/C
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OTRA CMGT CVIS CA CO
SUBJECT: COOPERATION WITH CANADIAN EMBASSY IN BOGOTA ON VISA
REF: 03 SECSTATE 344544
1. (U) Summary: Reftel recommended that posts share
information with Canadian colleagues regarding visa
processing, and offered a "template" for cooperation. The
Consular Section in Bogota has long enjoyed a close
relationship with the Canadian Embassy in Colombia. Using
the ideas provided in reftel, post will work to deepen ties
further. End summary.
2. (U) Reftel recommended that post schedule regular
meetings with the Canadians and counterparts from other
appropriate countries to discuss and analyze developments
and trends, including fraud trends. In 2003, post organized
a formal "Anti-Fraud Working Group," composed of
representatives of 22 foreign embassies in Bogota. The
Group meets monthly to share information regarding fraud
trends, such as categories of applicants where fraud seems
to be on the rise. It is a valuable forum for "talking
shop," such as learning the factors European countries give
the most weight to in interviews, or how Central American
consular officials view applicants who have either received
or been denied for a U.S. visa. When George Suhr, acting
officer in charge of the DHS office in Panama, visited
Bogota, post arranged for him to address the Group.
3. (U) Post supplements the formal activities of the Group
with an informal monthly consular luncheon among a subset of
the Group's members. These usually include representatives
of Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Austria,
Italy, Spain, Mexico and Japan. The luncheons provide a
less structured opportunity to swap visa information.
4. (SBU) These multilateral efforts complement nearly
daily contact between the Canadian Embassy and post's Fraud
Prevention Unit ("FPU"). Post provides the Canadians with
the names of persons removed from the United States or
"turned around" at the border. We also occasionally perform
namechecks on applicants to the Canadian refugee program.
The Canadians send to the Deputy Fraud Chief the names of
applicants for refuge whose applications are likely to be
denied. These include a number of persons who identify
themselves as members of terrorist organizations (i.e., the
FARC, the ELN, or paramilitaries). Post then reviews those
persons in its VISAS VIPER committee. Less dramatically,
about 90 percent of the refugee applicants rejected by the
Canadians have valid U.S. visas. Seeking refugee status
brings into question the person's continuing ability to
overcome INA Section 214(b). Consequently, post examines
whether those person's visas should be revoked. In
addition, U.S. and Canadian officials regularly consult one
another by telephone to verify visas or stamps in the
passports of applicants.
5. (U) Reftel suggested that posts "conduct reciprocal
tours of visa operations for all newly assigned officers."
Canadian consular officials (together with officials from
the British Embassy) toured post's Consular Section on
February 20, 2004. Officials from the Mexican Embassy
toured the Section on February 27. Consular colleagues from
other missions also visited the Section in 2003.
6. (U) Reftel also suggested that posts conduct
appropriate joint training exercises and joint interdiction
operations. Post will seek opportunities to implement these