Cablegate: Cuban Validation Study Results From Madrid

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

1. (U) SUMMARY. Embassy Madrid wanted to examine overstay
rates of applicants issued visas for tourist travel to the
United States. Because of the wealth of information
available on Cuban applicants, the Cuban community's travel
patterns were studied. Post initiated a validation study to
determine the reliability of adjudication decisions for Cuban
tourist visas. Eighty-seven Cubans who were interviewed
between December 2002 and May 2003 were contacted to see if
they had returned from their trip or if they had overstayed
in the United States. Fifty-eight of the Cubans contacted
returned from their trips without incident. When confirmed
overstayers are added to likely overstayers, there was an
overstay rate of 26.4 percent of all applicants in the study.
There is no exact profile of a typical overstayer, as ages
ranged from 6 to 86, and came from all regions in Spain.
Results were both surprising and discouraging. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Embassy Madrid was interested in finding out
overstay rates of different nationalities that were granted
tourist visas. Because of the wealth of information
available on Cuban applicants due to increased security
procedures, the Cuban community in Spain was selected for
study. All Cuban visa applicants interviewed between
December 1, 2002, and May 31, 2003, were included in the
study. Phone interviews with the applicants were conducted
in February 2004, giving all visa recipients sufficient time
to visit the United States and return to Spain. (Cuban
tourist visas are generally one-entry visas over a six-month

3. (U) Embassy Madrid's study was a validation study of
visa issuances, but it was not set-up in the traditional
sense of a non-immigrant visa (NIV) validation study. For
this study, Embassy Madrid validated only Cuban visa
applicants that had received tourist visas. Applicants that
were refused tourist visas in the initial interviews were not
considered in the study. For this period post adjudicated
215 Cuban visa cases and had a forty-seven percent refusal
rate for Cubans.

4. (U) All eighty-seven Cubans who interviewed for tourist
visas between December 2002 and May 2003 were included in the
study. Study interviewers used telephone numbers supplied by
the applicants. Spanish home numbers were phoned first. If
a Spanish home number was unreachable, the interviewer then
dialed mobile telephone numbers, work telephone numbers, and
directory assistance. If an applicant was unreachable after
several attempts, U.S. information provided on application
forms was used to contact friends and relatives of the
applicant who live in the U.S. Sixty-nine of the Cuban
applicants were reached. Eleven of the sixty-nine Cubans
reached had confirmed overstays. Fifty-eight of the Cubans
completed their travel without incident. Eighteen of the
applicants were unreachable. Many of the unreachable
applicants provided work phone numbers that were either
non-existent, or numbers where current employers and workers
had never heard of the applicant. Others provided
point-of-contact information in the U.S. or phone numbers
that did not exist. Phone numbers can change over time, and
phones frequently get disconnected, but post believes that at
a minimum, twelve of these eighteen applicants provided
inaccurate information and are probable overstays. When
these twelve cases are added to the eleven confirmed
overstays, this makes an estimated overstay rate of 26.4
percent. This estimated overstay rate is only for people
granted tourist visas.

5. (U) It is difficult to determine an exact profile of the
typical Cuban applicant who overstays their visa. Fifty-five
percent of overstay applicants were married, while forty-five
percent were single. Ages varied from 6 to 86. Some of the
applicants who overstayed neglected to mention detailed
travel plans, but others included very detailed plans.
Overstayers and likely overstayers came from all regions of
Spain with slightly more representation in Madrid, Barcelona,
and the Canary Islands, areas of large Cuban populations.

6. (U) Results were both surprising and discouraging,
considering Embassy Madrid already refused a high number of
Cubans during the time period used in this study.
Adjudicating officers have found the study useful, and post
has already incorporated the study's findings into the
interviewing of Cuban nationals.

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