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Cablegate: Embassy La Paz Validation Study Results

VZCZCXYZ0005
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLP #0144/01 0261852
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 261851Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0541
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO

UNCLAS LA PAZ 000144

SIPDIS
DEPARTMENT FOR CA/FPP MARIA LANE, PAUL FERMOILE AND BILL MULLER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS KFRD BL
SUBJECT: Embassy La Paz Validation Study Results

1. (SBU) Summary: Embassy La Paz recently concluded two small
validation studies of recipients of J1 visas and members of a
traditional Bolivian dance troupe. The Consular Section suspected
high overstay rates among both groups and conducted the studies to
determine actual return rates. The results revealed that among J1
recipients, au pairs were significantly more likely than non-au
pairs to overstay their visas. The Bolivian dance group returned
more reliably than expected, though the small sample size used for
the study reduced Post's confidence in the significance of the
results. End Summary.

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

BACKGROUND OF SELECTED GROUPS

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

2. (SBU) Determining Bolivian au pairs' eligibility for a J1
visa is particularly difficult for consular officers. Nearly all
of them are young, single women from middle to middle-low class
families who have little or no established work history. Their
ties to Bolivia are generally scant, they rarely have any
international travel, and many times they have a family or friend
connection in the United States. In prior meetings with the Fraud
Prevention Unit (FPU), Bolivian au pair recruitment organizations
have assured consular officers that their candidates are thoroughly
vetted to ensure their return to Bolivia. FPU decided to test the
integrity of the vetting process by conducting a validation study
on J1 recipients with a particular focus on au pairs.

3. (U) FPU also conducted a one hundred percent survey of
twenty-seven members of a traditional Bolivian dance group who
received a B1/B2 visa between August and September 2009. Members
of this group are usually young, single, and from families
representing lower socioeconomic groups. After FPU uncovered
attempts by several people falsely posing as members of the group,
it decided to conduct a validation study on individuals issued
visas.

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

METHODOLOGY

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

4. (U) FPU randomly selected ninety J1 recipients from a
total of 285 visas issued between June 2007 and June 2008. FPU
selected the sample cohort using the CCD and Excel as described on
the Consular Affairs website. The sample size yielded an eleven
percent margin of error at a ninety-five percent confidence
interval and a 9.5 percent margin of error at a ninety percent
confidence interval. Thirty-nine of the J1 recipients surveyed
were au pairs.

5. (U) FPU surveyed 100 percent of the Caporales San Simon
dance troupe visa recipients. Of the twenty-seven individuals
surveyed, sixteen were female and eleven were male. Twenty-five of
the respondents were from the city of Cochabamba while two were
from Santa Cruz.

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

J1 SURVEY RESULTS

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

6. (U) The J1 validation results revealed that among the
thirty-nine au pairs surveyed, fifteen were confirmed overstays
compared to twenty-two confirmed returns. FPU was unable to

confirm the travel of two individuals. Consequently, the overstay
rate for au pair J1s was 38.5 percent.

7. (U) A closer look at the au pair overstays revealed that
some of them appear to have legally adjusted status while in the
United States. According to information provided by the host
families, at least one third of the confirmed overstays adjusted to
F1 status. The host family of another au pair extended her J1
status for an additional six months. FPU was unable to contact six
of the fifteen host families to inquire about their au pairs'
whereabouts.

8. (SBU) Among non-au pair J1s, the overstay rate was 15.6
percent. Of the fifty-one non-au pairs surveyed, eight were
confirmed overstays compared to forty-three confirmed returns.
Based on these results, FPU concluded that the au pair J1 cohort
was considerably more likely to overstay its authorized stay in the
United States as compared to the non-au pair group.

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

CAPORALES SAN SIMON SURVEY RESULTS
--------------------------------------------- ----------

9. (U) Results from the Caporales San Simon dance group
validation study suggested that the group members are generally
good visa applicants. Of the twenty-seven people surveyed, FPU
confirmed that twenty-two returned, four did not travel, and only
one person overstayed. However, because of the small sample size,
the margin of error was significant enough that the results cannot
be considered conclusive.

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

CONCLUSIONS

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

10. (SBU) The J1 validation results confirmed FPU's suspicion
that au pairs are more prone to overstay their visas as compared to
non-au pairs. Post plans to implement a more rigorous
pre-screening process to better assess au pairs' ties to Bolivia.

11. (SBU) While the Caporales San Simon validation results were
encouraging, FPU cannot draw too many conclusions based on such a
small sample size. However, FPU attributes the good return rate to
two factors. First, the Caporales group is a well-established
troupe that likely creates a strong sense of community for its
members which compels them to return. Second, FPU conducted a
thorough pre-screening of the applicants prior to their interview
to verify their membership within the group.
Creamer

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