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Cablegate: Embassy Tunis Prepares Niv Applicants for New Evaf

VZCZCXRO8501
RR RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTU #2702/01 3070849
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 030849Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY TUNIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2160
INFO RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 0420
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 1351

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TUNIS 002702

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/MAG (M.HARRIS), TRIPOLI FOR CONOFF, CAIRO FOR RCO
(HICKEY)

E.O. 12958: NA
TAGS: CVIS CMGT SOCI LY TS
SUBJECT: EMBASSY TUNIS PREPARES NIV APPLICANTS FOR NEW EVAF
REGULATIONS

Ref: STATE 141880

1. SUMMARY: For the last two months, post consular and public
affairs sections have been engaged in a campaign to increase public
awareness about the new EVAF requirements. Through press releases
and a roundtable discussion, liaison with the host government, and
by using posters and public speaking engagements, post was able to
coordinate a series of outreach efforts aimed at minimizing
potential problems from the November 1 policy change. Preliminary
results indicate that these efforts have increased awareness and
EVAF usage among our applicant pool. However, post anticipates some
minor difficulties as our applicant pool (which includes persons
residing in Tunisia and Libya) becomes accustomed to exclusive use
of electronic forms. END SUMMARY

2. In preparation for the move to the EVAF requirement, Embassy
Tunis reached out to government officials, media outlets, students
and the general public. Beginning September 1, Conoffs took the
following actions.

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3. Government Authorities:
- Post sent a Diplomatic Note to the Tunisian MFA to inform them of
the change in policy.

- On October 11, the MFA requested a meeting to discuss the EVAF.
The meeting was attended by two Deputy Directors of Protocol, the
Director of Protocol, the Director of Consular Affairs and the
Deputy Director of Consular Affairs. The MFA's main concerns about
providing detailed information on high level officials and how to
fill out the EVAF were readily assuaged by Conoffs, who explained
that the form and process remain the same.

- Visa Chief sent out letters to other consuls in Tunis asking them
to help make their colleagues and contacts aware of the new
regulations.

- Embassy Tunis contacted Embassy Tripoli Conoff and PAO to
establish a collaborative effort in spreading the word to our wider
client pool. (Tunis handles Libyan NIV applicants, except for A and
G visas. Libyan applicants make up more than one third of post's NIV
workload.) Embassy Tripoli reported that they sent diplomatic notes
and inquiries to the GOL, asking permission to run EVAF information
in local newspapers. They have yet to receive a response and are
relying on word of mouth and their website to get the word out.

4. Media:
- During the last week of September, Embassy Tunis sent out a press
release in English, Arabic and French detailing the use of the EVAF.
The communique was picked up by the majority of local daily and
weekly Arabic and French newspapers.

- On October 18, the Section Chief and Conoffs held a roundtable in
French and Arabic with local journalists at the Embassy. They were
shown a presentation on how the EVAF works, and were then brought to
the consular section and shown the barcode scanners and data entry
stations where visa applications are processed. This event and the
EVAF requirement were widely reported in the local Arabic and French
press over the following days.

5. Students and General Public:
- Conoffs spoke at multiple events to potential student visa
applicants about EVAF procedures. Venues included the American
Cooperative School of Tunis, the Faculte de Droit et des Sciences
Economiques et Politiques de Sousse, the National Engineering School
of Monastir, the Faculte des Sciences de Monastir and the Institut
Superieur d'Informatique et de Mathematiques de Monastir.

- Embassy Tunis contacted the head of the Federation of Tunisian
Travel Agencies and requested his help in passing along information
on the EVAF to travel agencies and their customers.

- Conoff placed posters in English, French and Arabic highlighting
the upcoming move to EVAF in several public access areas around the
Embassy.

- By October 2, all paper copies of form DS-156 were removed from
the Embassy public areas, and staff urged applicants to begin using
the EVAF in order to ease applicants into the process and to
facilitate word of mouth transmission about the new procedure.

- On October 6, Conoff and LES visited local internet cafes and
compiled a list of neighborhood sources of internet access for
applicants who arrive at the consular section without an EVAF
already prepared.


6. COMMENT: Embassy Tunis has made proactive efforts to prepare our
applicant pool for November 1, and is confident that our outreach

TUNIS 00002702 002 OF 002


will result in a smoother transition to the EVAF. EVAF usage has
already increased well before the cutoff date. Two months ago about
19% of applicants used EVAF, a month ago it grew to 38%, and on
October 19 63% of our applicants used the EVAF. While some
applicants, such as officials at the African Development Bank and
Libyan businessmen, have been familiar with the EVAF for a while,
and Embassy Tunis has had information about the form on our website
for quite some time, Tunisians were generally unaware of this format
of the DS-156. Due to this, and because it is estimated that only
about 8% of Tunisians have internet access, we believe we will see--
despite our efforts-- some confusion and distress on the other side
of the window come November 1. END COMMENT.

BALLARD

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