Cablegate: Disney World, Morocco, and Q-1 Visas
DE RUEHCL #0200/01 2961334
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 231334Z OCT 09
FM AMCONSUL CASABLANCA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8544
INFO RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 8690
RUEHPNH/NVC PORTSMOUTH 1739
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 3907
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0349
UNCLAS CASABLANCA 000200
DEPT FOR CA/FPP - SSEXTON, CA/VO/F/P, NEA/MAG,
DEPT FOR CA/VO/KCC FOR FPM
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFRD CVIS CPAS MO
SUBJECT: Disney World, Morocco, and Q-1 Visas
Ref A: 00 Casablanca 465, Ref B: 04 Casablanca 1174, Ref C:
Casablanca 188, Ref D: Rabat 392
1. Summary: Overstays by Q-1 visa holders who serve as cultural
representatives at Disney's EPCOT Center in Orlando, Florida have
long been a concern. Post conducted a validation study of Q-1
recipients issued visas between September 2006 and June 2008. The
results confirmed that the overwhelming majority do not return to
Morocco. End Summary.
2. Q-1 visas are issued to cultural representatives who work in the
Moroccan Pavilion at Orlando Florida's EPCOT Center (Refs A and B).
Post regularly sees non-immigrant visa applications from friends and
family to visit former Q-1 recipients, indicating that many Q-1
recipients do not return to Morocco. Post's IV LE supervisor, a Q-1
alumnus himself, noted that in his Q-1 class, only three returned to
Morocco (Ref C).
3. In August 2009, the National Benefits Center for the Department
of Homeland Security (DHS) contacted post about its concerns
regarding the high number of I-485s (Request to Establish Permanent
Residence or Adjust Status) it receives for Moroccan Q-1 recipients.
The Applicant Pool
4. Refs A and B noted that post communicated with Disney in 2000 and
2004 about Q-1 overstay trends. Disney undertook to select
applicants who were likely to return to Morocco. The applicants in
consular interviews today say they undergo a series of interviews
with recruiters and Disney representatives by phone and in person.
All applicants currently have some educational or practical training
in the tourism or hospitality industry. They can explain aspects of
Moroccan culture in English. However, some applicants struggle more
than others with English.
5. Overcoming 214b is the applicants' biggest hurdle. All are
single, often students or interns in the hospitality industry, and
they rarely have previous foreign travel. As proof of their intent
to return to Morocco, the majority of applicants give canned answers
about how they want to take advantage of the Morocco's efforts to
develop its tourism industry. They also have similar vague plans to
open their own five-star Moroccan restaurants or hotels (See Ref D
regarding the effects of the world economic crisis on Morocco's
ambitious plans to increase tourist facilities.) Not all applicants
receive their visas; 37 Q-1 applicants were refused under 214b
during the same sample period.
Validation Study: Methodology
6. Using the CCD, post retrieved the electronic records of 103 Q-1
visa recipients issued between September 2006 and June 2008. The
Fraud Prevention Manager (FPM) then reviewed the recipients' travel
records in the DHS Arrival and Departure Information System (ADIS)
database. ADIS documents arrival and departure records and any
efforts by an applicant to adjust status in the United States.
7. ADIS results confirmed that the majority of Q-1 applicants are
staying in the United States as students, spouses of American
citizens, or as visa status violators. Of the 103 issued cases, the
breakdown is as follows:
a. One person had no record of using his/her Q-1 visa to travel to
the United States.
b. Twelve (12) returned to Morocco: This includes one person who
adjusted to F-1 student status (see below) and a 2009 Diversity
Lottery (DV) winner who returned to Morocco to complete her DV
c. Fifty (50) adjusted to B-2 (tourist status) or just remained in
the United States: Of these, 41 overstayed their Q-1s or adjusted
to B-2 and overstayed. Nine were still legally in the United States
as tourists at the time this cable was drafted. One person in B-2
status was waiting for a decision on her application for CR-6 status
(lawful residence based on marriage to the U.S. citizen in the
d. Twenty-seven (27) adjusted status as CR-6s. All arrived as Q-1s.
However in 26 of out of 27 cases, there are additional entries in
the arrival records indicating they were actually admitted under the
visa class Conditionally Resident (CR)-6. This would seem to
indicate that the applicant married an American citizen within a
week of having received a Q-1 visa. DHS Q-1 marriage fraud
interviews indicated that many Moroccans search the Internet for an
American willing to marry them.
e. Twelve (12) adjusted to F-1 status. Student Exchange Visitors
Information System (SEVIS) records indicate that only one of these
returned to Morocco after finishing her studies at Valencia
Community College. Of the remaining eleven, nine enrolled at UCEDA,
an English language school in Florida, one enrolled at the ZONI
language school in New York, and one enrolled at Everest University.
The one enrolled at Everest is registered as "deactivated" in the
SEVIS system with no records of her departure. The SEVIS status of
the three enrolled at UCEDA was noted as "terminated" with no record
of their departures. This leaves seven former Q-1s who are actively
studying in the United States.
Communicating with Disney
8. Disney welcomed FPM's contact with their international
recruitment and visa compliance officers about how they recruit Q-1s
cultural representatives. In response to questions, Disney reported
that many applicants come through recommendations from the Moroccan
Ministry of Tourism. Disney also uses a procurement ally,
International Services. International Services handles all initial
screening of Disney's European and Moroccan candidates.
International Services conducts preliminary interviews for Q-1
applicants to verify that they meet overall requirements for the
9. Company representatives from both Disney and Marrakesh Restaurant
(part of the Moroccan Pavilion at the EPCOT Center) meet with
candidates in Morocco in the fall each year. The recruitment
interviews are conducted in English. Qualified candidates are
selected by the Marrakesh Restaurant, after deliberation with Disney
representatives. The majority of applicants usually have two years
of education beyond high school, often in the tourism or hospitality
fields, but others may have only practical experience in the field.
The process described matched steps Disney planned to take (Refs A
and B). Post accepted Disney's invitation to send a consular
representative to its recruitment meetings in Morocco in November.
10. Post then asked if Disney ever conducted a review of the numbers
of cultural representatives who return to Morocco. Disney said they
did not but rather noted that they partnered with Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (DHS/ICE) in Orlando to report representatives
who leave the program early. Disney added it informs cultural
representatives of the expectation to return to Morocco.
Communication with DHS
11. FPM spoke with Special Agent Richard McGahey, Disney's DHS
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contact. He confirmed he
conducts arrival briefings for EPCOT cultural representatives on
their responsibilities as non-immigrants. He also keeps track of
Q-1 recipients who depart early. However, Q-1 recipients who
complete their programs have a thirty-day grace period before they
are required to depart and McGahey does not track this sub-group.
He participated in two 2007 DHS investigations of the Moroccan
Pavilion based on Department of State leads. McGahey said he had
noted his concerns about marriage fraud with Q-1 recipients to the
vice president of the Marrakesh restaurant.
12. Post's DHS attach office responded with interest to the
preliminary results of the Q-1 validation study. FPM provided a
copy of the results for DHS to conduct its own review of the legal
status of the Q-1 recipients. In addition, DHS plans to use this
cable as the basis for a DHS Intel report on Q-1 recipients.
13. The validation study results demonstrate a need to revise
questions asked in Q-1 interviews. To date, post focused on past
experience or training in the tourism/hospitality industry, ability
to explain Moroccan culture in English, and general plans for the
future. Post will now also ask about online friends and future
14. Post looks forward to meeting with Disney and ICE officials in
November. Observing the recruitment activities will inform post
about Disney's selection process. In its communication with post,
Disney welcomed suggestions and questions regarding the cultural
representative program. In light of this opportunity, post hopes to
hold side meetings to discuss issues surrounding the Q-1 program at
the Moroccan Pavilion.