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Cablegate: Consular Section Outreach On Sao Procedures

VZCZCXRO2527
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHSH #0222 3560234
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 220234Z DEC 09
FM AMCONSUL SHENYANG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8945
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8440
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0355
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 0027
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0932
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 3237
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 2151
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SHENYANG 000222

STATE FOR CA/VO, EAP/CM, EAP/PD and ECA

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS PREL CH SCUL
SUBJECT: Consular Section Outreach on SAO Procedures

REF: 29-MAY-2009 EAP Press Guidance
1. Summary: U.S. Consulate Shenyang's SAO officer met with
students, professors, and company executives at various institutions
and enterprises in Northeast China in an effort to help them prepare
adequately for the visa interview. The institutions and enterprises
were chosen for their large numbers of visa applicants and high
percentages of applicants requiring Mantis SAOs. Outreach materials
were adapted from the May 29, 2009 press guidance regarding changes
to the Visas Mantis program (Reftel). Conoff and LES assistant
fielded general questions about the B1/B2 and J-1 categories of
nonimmigrant visas and received feedback on the process. End
summary.
2. On November 24-27, 2009, Conoff conducted a series of outreach
events at businesses and universities in Harbin, Shenyang, and
Changchun. Since most prior outreach events were focused on the F-1
student visa, these talks were primarily directed toward a J-1 and
B1/B2 audience. The universities and research institutions that
were visited send many professors and directors to the U.S. every
year, either for research or educational exchange purposes. The
majority of these professors and directors are subject to the Mantis
SAO, due to their backgrounds and/or purpose of travel. Therefore,
Conoff carefully laid out the validity periods of the various types
of clearances and explained the Citic Bank drop-box procedure, in an
effort to ensure that the applicants understood how they could waive
the interview or avoid being processed for a new Mantis SAO. During
each of these talks, Conoff stressed the importance of applying
early, keeping your visa valid, and bringing the necessary documents
to the visa interview.
3. The professors and company directors were pleased with the
shorter waiting times, which are currently around 3-4 weeks for most
visa classes; at the same time last year, the average processing
times were 2-3 months. Several expressed the need for clearer
guidance on the validity periods of the clearances and the
relationship between the SAO process and purpose of travel and
background of the applicant. On the latter point, Conoff advised
that a number of factors contribute to the decision-making process,
and reiterated the guidance to apply early and bring all related
documents.
4. Comment: This is the first time that the Consular Section has
conducted outreach directed toward this type of audience. The warm
receptions we received and the number of thought-provoking questions
exceeded our expectations and testified to the need for this type of
outreach in the future. We succeeded in informing many educators
and businessmen about the visa application process, and in turn were
able to expand our contact base in the Consular district. If you
would like to use or adapt our outreach materials, please contact
ShenyangSAO@state.gov.

WICKMAN

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