Cablegate: Embassy Brasilia B1, B1/B2, B2 Validation Study Cy2004
DE RUEHBR #1826/01 2430957
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 310957Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6526
INFO RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 7893
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 2774
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 5371
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 001826
DEPT FOR CA/VO/F/P, CA/FPP, CA/EX
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFRD CVIS CMGT BR
SUBJECT: EMBASSY BRASILIA B1, B1/B2, B2 VALIDATION STUDY CY2004
1. Summary: In August 2006, the Consular Section of Embassy Brasilia
concluded a validation study of the 6,620 B1, B1/B2 and B2 Visas
issued by the section in calendar year 2004. Results showed that
83.4% returned, 12.2% did not return, 4.1% never traveled, and data
was inconclusive on 0.2%. The initial survey was carried out by
telephone and had an initial inconclusive rate of 13.6%. Embassy DHS
then used TECS to check our inconclusive cases, providing conclusive
data on all but a few cases, greatly increasing the accuracy of our
study. End summary.
2. Post classified the study results into four categories: 1)
Confirmed Return or Current Legal Stay in the U.S. - those cases for
which Post was able to contact the visa holder and determine a
return from the United States and/or travelers still legally present
in the U.S.; 2) Confirmed Overstay - those travelers who are still
in the United States or who stayed for more than the six months of
stay CBP typically authorizes and who did not file for extension; 3)
Never Traveled - individuals who have not used their visas and 4)
Inconclusive - cases which remain unclear even after obtaining DHS
Data Analysis General Observations
3. Post determined that 83.4% of all B1, B1/B2 and B2 visa holders
who were interviewed by Embassy Brasilia in 2004 left the United
States after a temporary visit or were in the U.S. for less than six
months. Post confirmed that 12.2% of the travelers failed to return
from the United States or misused their visas by remaining in the
U.S. for more than six months. 4.1% never traveled, while we were
unable to determine the whereabouts of 0.2% of travelers.
4. Post noticed that 80.2% of all confirmed overstay cases were
issued between August and December 2004. Post attributes this to two
factors: 1) a significant decrease in the refusal rate in B1, B1/B2
and B2 issuances, from 57% in January 2004 to 30% in December 2004;
and 2) a gradual slide in the dollar - real exchange rate from the
highest of 3.1 reals to one dollar in May to 2.7 in December 2004.
The stronger Brazilian currency improved the purchasing power of
applicants and, therefore, increased their income in USD terms. The
strong Brazilian real also made U.S. travel affordable for segments
of Brazilian society who previously would never have considered
travel to the U.S.
Confirmed Overstay Cases Analysis
5. Analyzing the confirmed overstay cases by age revealed that age
group most likely to overstay are 21 to 35 year-olds (40.6%),
followed by individuals under 14 (20.8%).
6. Of the group studied, men are slightly more likely to abuse visas
than women (51.5% vs.48.5%).
7. Although the majority of B1, B1/B2 and B2 visas in 2004 were
issued to the residents of the Federal District, followed by the
applicants from the State of Goias (37% compared to 29%); 66.3% of
the confirmed overstay cases resided in Goias, and only 19.8% were
from the Federal District.
8. Interestingly enough, only 2% of all overstays were overcome
cases, and only 5.9% had their visas previously denied, whereas
12.9% were limited validity visas.
9. Utilizing FPP guidelines, principally based on the following
cables, 04 STATE 172283 SOP 74: Updated Guidance on Conducting
Validation Studies, 00 STATE 63463 Validation Studies - Report on
Pilot Project and Recommendations; Validation Studies Handbook
(1999); and 99 STATE 43495 - Validation Studies for Anti-Fraud Work
- A Simplified Approach, the Consular Section chose a sample of 800
successful visa applicants. Post contacted each and every applicant
by phone and then determined the percentage of visa recipients in
this particular category who returned to Brazil after a temporary
visit to the United States.
10. Using CCD data post generated an Excel file of all 6,620 B1,
B1/B2 and B2 visas granted in 2004. Next, we organized the
spreadsheet according to the following categories: Random Number,
Sample Frequency, Gender, DOB, Nationality, phone number, alternate
phone number, date to call, first call date, second call date (if
missed on the first), third and final call date (if missed on first
two) and six result columns: confirmed overstay, confirmed return,
probable overstay, inconclusive, and never traveled.
11. Subsequently, post generated a random sample of 827 cases, using
the Random Number Generator program in Excel, and sorted the
spreadsheet by the Random Number Column. After creating a list of
BRASILIA 00001826 002 OF 002
cases to call, post simplified the call back procedure by organizing
the spreadsheet by the Visa Printed Date and creating separate
worksheets, one for each month in 2004.
Call-Back Process General Observations
12. Originally, Post decided that only the Consular Section's FSNs
were to make phone calls to the randomly selected visa holders. The
premise for the decision was the idea that it would be easier to
establish the current whereabouts of the selected visa holders by
not divulging the caller's identity, which is an easier task for a
native Portuguese speaker. The section created several scenarios for
phone calls such as credit card company data verification, a call
from an old friend from school/college, etc. While this strategy
proved to be successful in a number of cases, a lot of families were
reluctant to give out personal information. However, when U.S.
members of the Consular Section made the calls, respondents were
much more likely to provide personal information about the
whereabouts of the visa holder.
13. Soon after commencing, Post discovered that the majority of
phone numbers and addresses of the visa holders have changed and
that it was difficult to locate the B1, B1/B2 and B2 travelers.
Using application forms DS-156 and DS-157 helped determine the
location of some of the visa holders with the help of family
members, U.S. or work contacts. Often times the Consular staff had
to obtain telephone numbers through the Brazilian directory
assistance, which considerably slowed down the validation study, but
at the same time reduced the number of inconclusive cases.
Using DHS Data
14. After completing Stage 1 of the study, Post was unable to
determine the whereabouts of 13.6% of all the cases examined. The
Embassy's DHS office, however, provided us with the entry/exit data
of the 126 inconclusive cases through TECS queries. Having access to
the information was a tremendous help in completing the study.
15. While we are pleased with the results of the validation study,
we managed to identify two problem groups of applicants who tend to
breach the terms of their visas: 1) under-14-year-olds, and 2)
applicants from the State of Goias. Post is also advising
pre-screeners to improve data entry and verify the accuracy of the
information visa candidates provide on their application forms.
16. Additionally, the Post's validation study proved to be a
successful exercise in cooperation between the Consular Section and
DHS. Entry/exit data obtained from Post's DHS team was invaluable to
the success of the study and helped us to practically eliminate the
number of inconclusive cases, thus making the results of the study
far more accurate. The exercise was a vivid reminder of how much
consular officers could benefit from direct access to U.S.
entry/exit records either through TECS and/or inclusion of such data
into the CCD.