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Cablegate: U.S. Visa Program for Chinese Officials Nearly Flawless

VZCZCXRO9612
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHGZ #0603/01 2990616
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 260616Z OCT 09
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1008
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0790
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0234
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 0244
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0235
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0306
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 0219

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GUANGZHOU 000603

STATE FOR CA/VO, CA/FPP AND EAP/CM
BEIJING FOR DCM, CONS AND POL

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS KFRD PGOV CH
SUBJECT: U.S. VISA PROGRAM FOR CHINESE OFFICIALS NEARLY FLAWLESS

1. (SBU) Summary: Guangzhou's Fraud Prevention Unit (FPU) recently
conducted a visa validation study which revealed that post's Public
and Service Passport Program for Chinese officials seeking visas,
better known as the "Waiban visa program," continues to function
almost flawlessly. Between July 1, 2007, and September 30, 2008,
post issued 8,485 nonimmigrant visas (NIVs) to Waiban applicants,
i.e., Chinese official travelers. Based on a sample population of
800, post confirmed that 799 have either returned to China after
their business trips or are still in status. In other words, 99.87
percent of Waiban passport holders returned to China after the
completion of their official trips to the United States. As the
Consular section's most visible example of our commitment to
facilitate cooperation between the U.S. and Chinese governments, the
Waiban visa program provides not only convenience for government and
state-owned enterprise (SOE) travelers but also streamlines the
adjudication process for consular officers. End summary.

BACKGROUND: A JOINT EFFORT
--------------------------

2. (SBU) The Chinese Foreign Affairs Office (FAO) issues diplomatic
(red covered), service (green), and public affairs (brown)
passports. Most of Guangzhou's Waiban clientele use public affairs
or service passports. Guangzhou sees very few diplomatic passport
applicants, except for the governors of the provinces or the mayor
of Guangzhou. Occasionally, if the Chinese government feels that it
is in their interest, they will issue public affairs passports to
employees of business enterprises. For example, although not
officially government workers, many high-ranking employees of SOEs
or high-tax paying private companies are issued public affairs
passports.

3. (SBU) FAO offices keep tight control over Waiban travel. For
each application, they assess the merits of the trip and determine
whether or not the traveler poses a risk for illegal immigration.
They require that each traveler return their passport to the Waiban
office within a certain period after the trip has concluded. Those
who abuse the system run the risk of being sanctioned.

4. (SBU) Once the FAO office decides who can travel, when they will
depart, and where they will go, they make the NIV application
appointment for the individuals with us and deliver the service or
diplomatic passports by courier. We require the FAOs to submit a
diplomatic note to indicate that the government has agreed for them
to use the passport. Public affairs passport holders, however, come
in through the normal walk-in process. Whether or not the visa is
issued, all the Waiban passports are returned directly to the FAO
courier.

METHODOLOGY FOR VALIDATION STUDY
--------------------------------

5. (U) FPU used the Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) to filter
out all passports that are not service or public passports. Both
public and service passports have a unique beginning letter in the
applicant's passport number. The public passports begin with a "P,"
and the service ones begin with an "S." Most other Chinese
passports start with a "G." Using the CCD, FPU pulled records of
all issuances from October 1, 2007 until September 30, 2008. Post
then exported all the information into a spreadsheet file. From
there, using the sort function, we separated all Waiban passports.
Because of the large amount of applicants, we used Excel to create a
random sample of 800 applications. Post then requested Department
(CA/FPP) assistance to check ADIS records for entry, exit, and any
change of status for each applicant.

6. (U) Note: ADIS records are sometimes incomplete. For example,
airline employees that purchase commercial planes in the United
States on behalf of large enterprises and then fly them back to
China are never recorded as departing the United States. ADIS
revealed that forty-two travelers did not have a record of
departure. FPU then made cold calls to the applicant to verify
their whereabouts.

RESULT AND CONCLUSION
---------------------

7. (SBU) After conducting cold calls for those travelers who were
listed in ADIS as not having departed the United States, post
confirmed that 99.87% of Waiban applicants returned to China after
completing their trips to the United States.

8. (U) The Waiban Visa Program continues to be extremely effective.

GUANGZHOU 00000603 002 OF 002


Foreign Affairs Offices' tight control and pre-screening ensures
that travelers abide by the terms of their U.S. visa, thus enhancing
the program's reputation and giving line officers the confidence to
issue to such applicants.

GOLDBECK

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