Cablegate: Congo-Kinshasa Business Visa Facilitation Program

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




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 04 STATE 166108

1. Summary. A low level of trade between the United
States and Congo-Kinshasa, a short average NIV appointment
wait time and open channels between the consular and
economic sections form the basis of informal mechanisms used
at post to facilitate business visa issuance. Legitimate
business travelers face little to no impediments obtaining
visas by following standard procedures. Per reftel, post
will reach out to local American businesses with interests
in Congo-Kinshasa to solicit feedback on current mechanisms
and to explore ways to further facilitate legitimate
business travel to the United States. End summary.

2. Years of civil war and mismanagement have left Congo-
Kinshasa one of the poorest countries in the world despite
its abundance of natural resources. Trade between Congo-
Kinshasa and the United States is comparatively small --
approximately US 119 million, most of which is from the
petroleum sector. Principal American companies with
interests here include Chevron-Texaco, General Motors, Ford
and Caterpillar. Manufacturers of cellular
telecommunications equipment are potential sources of
business with the United States, while American sellers of
used aircraft sometimes have need for Congolese business

3. NIV workload in Kinshasa is approximately 3,200
applicants per year and appointment wait time averages three
to five days. Legitimate business travelers with proper
documents and a history of prior travel receive full and
timely attention for visa requests. In instances where an
unknown or poorly documented person is applying for a visa
for business travel to the United States, the U.S. firm
often contacts the consular section either directly or
through the economic section to confirm the legitimacy of
the proposed trip. With high levels of NIV fraud and a high
refusal rate, vice consul prefers to individually examine
any questionable applications or new travelers.

4. Based on these factors, post's standard visa
appointment procedures and informal verification mechanisms
for business travel have well served the American business
community here. There are no lengthy delays for prospective
travelers to obtain a visa interview, and cooperation
between the consular and economic sections on identifying
legitimate business travel is good.

5. Per reftel, post will look at formalizing and expanding
these mechanisms by inquiring with local representatives of
American companies about additional measure to facilitate
business visas. Embassy-sponsored business roundtables will
be ideal forums to gather such feedback. Post will invite
interested companies to submit names and contact information
of staff that consular personnel could contact in order to
verify the bona fides of prospective travelers and the
legitimacy of the travel agenda. Other pertinent
information such as the names and passport numbers of any
regular travelers also could be included in these post-
maintained files.


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