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Cablegate: Chengdu B1/B2 Validation Study

VZCZCXRO2389
RR RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHCN #0266/01 3230909
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 190909Z NOV 09
FM AMCONSUL CHENGDU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3534
INFO RUEHPNH/NVC PORTSMOUTH NH
RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 1955
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 0826
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 0803
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0840
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 4238

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 CHENGDU 000266

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR CA/FPP
DHS FOR CIS/FDNS
DEPT ALSO PASS TO KCC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFRD CVIS CPAS CMGT ASEC CH
SUBJECT: CHENGDU B1/B2 VALIDATION STUDY

REF: A) STATE 172283, B) 2007 CHENGDU 101, C) 2005 CHENGDU 139, D) 2003
CHENGDU 873, E) 2001 CHENGDU 183

CHENGDU 00000266 001.2 OF 004


1. (U) SUMMARY: Consulate Chengdu's Fraud Prevention Unit
(FPU) conducted a validation study of all private Chinese
passport holders who were issued B1/B2 visas in CY2008. Based
on a review and analysis of 800 randomly-selected visa
issuances, the illegal overstay rate was found to be 2.0
percent. Nearly half of the applicants who illegally overstayed
their visas were parents going to visit children living in the
United States. Most of the others who illegally overstayed were
working-age and claimed to be managers at small- or medium-sized
Chinese companies traveling for business meetings or required
training. In the majority of these cases, applicants had both
fraudulent employment and purpose of travel. School-age
children and individuals going to the U.S. for tourism appear to
have significantly lower overstay rates. While this study did
not specifically focus on business travelers, its results
indicate a significant decline in Chengdu's business traveler
overstay rate. END SUMMARY.

Background

---------------

2. (U) The Chengdu consular district covers Sichuan, Yunnan and
Guizhou Provinces, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), and the
Chongqing Municipality. The majority of the Consulate's NIV
applicants hail from Chengdu (Sichuan), Chongqing and Kunming
(Yunnan), followed by Guiyang (Guizhou) and smaller cities and
towns throughout the region. Post sees relatively few
applicants from the TAR.

3. (U) The social and economic conditions in the Chengdu
consular district mirror those found in the Mission's other four
consular districts. The area supports a healthy mix of industry
and agriculture, which in recent years has led to increased
prosperity for the over 200 million residents served by Post.
As a result, the number of both applicants and issuances of
B1/B2 visas has increased dramatically in recent years. From
CY2004 to CY2008, for example, Post has seen an 83 percent
increase in B1/B2 applications and a 115 percent increase in
B1/B2 issuances.

4. (U) This is the first comprehensive B1/B2 validation study
conducted by Post, as previous surveys done in Chengdu were all
more narrowly focused. In 2001, 2003, and 2007, studies of B1
business travelers bearing private passports found non-return or
overstay rates of 55.0, 25.0, and 12.4 percent, respectively
(reftels B, C, and D). In 2005, Post also conducted a survey of
Chinese public affairs (FAO) passport holders going on official
travel to the United States, and found an overstay rate of less
than 3 percent (reftel E).

Methodology

-----------------

5. (U) In CY2008, Post issued 17,374 B1/B2 non-immigrant visas
(NIVs) to holders of private Chinese passports. To conduct its
validation study, the FPU randomly selected 800 cases from this
set of issued visas. Holders of Chinese diplomatic, public
affairs, and service passports were excluded from the sample,
since historically their overstay rates have varied
significantly from the private passport population (reftel E).
Third-country nationals were also excluded from the study.

6. (U) Using the Consular Consolidated Database (CCD), the FPU
pulled records of all B1/B2 issuances during CY2008 and exported
the data into an Excel spreadsheet file. Based on CA/FPP
guidance (reftel A), the FPU identified a random sample of 800
B1/B2 issuances, which provides a margin of error of 3 percent

CHENGDU 00000266 002.2 OF 004


with a 95 percent confidence level. The data set was sent to
CA/FPP, which then processed the biographical information
through the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Arrival and
Departure Information System (ADIS) database. DHS provided the
entry, exit and any change of status information for each
applicant.

7. (U) According to the definitions used by CA/FPP, issuances
with corresponding ADIS entry and departure records, without
overstays, including those with DHS extensions of stay, were
considered good return travelers to China (reftel A). For those
individuals with arrival records but without matching departure
records, Chengdu's FPU individually reprocessed these cases
through ADIS to confirm the lack of departure record. While not
definitive proof, the absence of a departure record in ADIS is a
significant indicator that a person may have overstayed their
visa or was a non-returnee. For each of these individuals, the
FPU conducted telephone inquiries and attempted to contact each
suspected non-returning applicant. After a minimum of three
unsuccessful attempts, the individual was placed in the final
"illegal overstay" category.

Results

-------------

8. (U) The data compiled for this study are listed below:

Total cases in random sample = 800 (total = 100%)

Traveled = 747 (93.4%)

Did not travel = 53 (6.6%)

Of those who traveled:

Returned to China = 700 (87.5%)

Currently in status in U.S. or have legally adjusted status = 31
(3.9%)

Confirmed illegal overstays = 16 (2.0%)

(Note: numbers in parentheses above are percentage of 800 total
cases in sample. End note.)

9. (U) Of the 800 B1/B2 visas issued in Chengdu in CY2008,
Chengdu's FPU detected 16 illegal overstays for a rate of 2.0
percent. All of these illegal overstays were travelers who
stayed in the U.S. longer than their Authorized Until Date (AUD)
granted to them by DHS upon entry into the U.S. Nine travelers
stayed beyond their AUD without a DHS-authorized extension but
eventually returned to China. Seven of these travelers,
however, not only stayed in the U.S. longer than their AUD, but
also appear to still be in the U.S. illegally.

10. (U) Thirty one travelers from the sample have legally
adjusted their status with DHS. These cases include adjustments
to student F1 status and others who received legal extensions of
stay, whereby a traveler has their AUD adjusted to a later date.
According to CA/FPP guidance (reftel A), these issuances are
treated as good return travelers since they did not illegally
overstay their visas.


CHENGDU 00000266 003.2 OF 004


11. (U) It is noteworthy that there were no confirmed overstays
for individuals whose purpose of travel was tourism, nor were
there for any summer or winter student home stay programs.
Likewise, no school-age children were found to have overstayed
their visas. Due to the small population sizes involved in this
study, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions about who is
likely to overstay a visa. However, all of the 16 confirmed
illegal overstays match one of the following three profiles:

The Three Overstay Profiles

------------------------------------

12. (U) Visiting relatives in the U.S.: Seven of the 16
confirmed overstay cases were applicants who went to visit
relatives in the U.S. Of these, six were parents going to visit
their children (and in some cases, also their grandchildren) who
were either American citizens, Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs),
or temporary workers on H1B visas. In five of the six Chinese
parent cases, the applicants had previously traveled to the U.S.
and returned to China, maintaining legal status throughout their
previous trips. This finding suggests that prior travel to the
U.S. should not be viewed as a guarantee that Chinese parents
will necessarily maintain their legal status in the U.S. The
seventh case is one where the applicant went to visit his LPR
wife and child in the U.S. and illegally overstayed his visa,
although he did eventually return to China after his trip. He,
too, had previous legal travel to the U.S.

13. (U) Fraudulent business travelers: Five of the 16 illegal
overstay cases involved applicants with confirmed fraudulent
employment and purpose of travel. In each case the individual
claimed to be a business traveler, but presented fraudulent work
credentials and fake invitation letters from U.S. inviters. In
four of the five cases, the applicants were in their 30s or 40s
and claimed to be managers of small- or medium-sized Chinese
companies. In the fifth case, the applicant purportedly worked
for a large U.S. firm as the regional branch manager. None of
these applicants had prior travel to the U.S. and only one had
any prior travel abroad. Based upon the FPU's investigation,
all five of these travelers have not only illegally overstayed
their visas, but also appear to have illegally immigrated to the
U.S.

14. (U) Business meetings and training: Four of the 16 illegal
overstays were business travelers going to the U.S. for
training. Three of them worked for larger, well-known companies
within the Chengdu consular district and were sent to the U.S.
for employer-sponsored technical training. The fourth case
involved an individual who was going for non-technical business
training and had previously traveled to the U.S. several times
before her overstay. Based upon the FPU's investigation, all
four had legitimate employment and purpose of travel at the time
of their interviews. Unlike the group of fraudulent business
travelers mentioned above, all four have returned to China after
their illegal overstay.

Analysis and Comment

------------------------------

15. (U) Since Chengdu saw a significant increase in the number
of fake business travelers in recent years, Chengdu's
interviewing line officers and the FPU became increasingly
vigilant about suspect cases. The number of cases referred to
the FPU for investigation and the number of confirmed fraudulent
cases increased substantially during CY2008. Because these
types of applicants - had they been issued a visa - would very
likely have overstayed or not returned to China, refusing their
visas appears to have helped lower the overall B1/B2 overstay
rate.


CHENGDU 00000266 004.2 OF 004


16. (U) Because applicants matching the fraudulent business
traveler profiled above are still very prevalent in Chengdu, the
FPU has developed a fraud library with an extensive collection
of fake employment and invitation letters. The FPU also
conducts training for adjudicating officers to help them
identify suspect business travelers.

Conclusion

--------------

17. (U) The local economy in the Chengdu consular district
provides ample opportunities to earn a good living, and as a
result, applicants issued B1/B2 visas appear to be generally
well-qualified. While this survey did not disaggregate business
and leisure travelers, the trend in Chengdu's declining overstay
rates is clear. The study's finding of a 2.0 percent combined
business and leisure overstay rate suggest both groups generally
do not abuse their B1/B2 visas. The results are also in marked
contrast to Chengdu's previous validation studies going back to
CY2001 (reftels B, D, and E), in which B1-issued business
travelers showed significantly higher overstay rates. However,
as this general B1/B2 validation study is unable to provide
detailed information about specific population groups, Chengdu's
FPU is planning to carry out more targeted NIV validation
studies in the future. Possibilities include validation studies
focusing on business travelers, parents visiting children,
tourist groups, and students and exchange visitors.
BROWN

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