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Consular Corner

by Liam Schwartz

Top Ten Visa Wait Times at US Consular Posts, July 2007*

July's Top Ten contains three first-time members. Dramatic increases in wait times are noted for Quito and Santo Domingo.

Country US Consular Post Visa Wait Time Increase/Decrease from June 2007 Last Month Top 10 Position
Cuba US Interests Section Havana 818 days +59 days 1
Venezuela Caracas 126 days - 4 days 2
Haiti Port au Prince 125 days 0 3
Dominican Republic Santo Domingo 125 days +52 days 5
Ecuador Quito 120 days + 92 days New to Top 10
Brazil Rio De Janeiro 97 days + 4 days 4
Israel Tel Aviv 86 days + 14 days 6
Jamaica Kingston 77 days + 22 days New to Top 10
Kenya Nairobi 72 days + 11 adys 9
Lebanon Beirut 71 days + 31 days New to Top 10

*Updated to July 1, 2007 and based on published Department of State data. The "visa wait time" is the estimated time in which individuals need to wait to obtain a nonimmigrant visa interview appointment at a given consular post.

New FAM Guidance

Adam Walsh FAM Provisions

The new "Adam Walsh Check " guidance on processing I-130 petitions for family-based immigrant status abroad can be found at: 9 FAM Appendix N, 200. In addition to provisions on the Adam Walsh checks themselves (see 9 FAM Appendix N, 203), this guidance includes new residency restrictions on U.S. citizen petitioners (see 9 FAM Appendix N, 201.1).

Drunk Driving Issues

An upcoming change to the FAM will reflect new guidance instructing consular officers to refer applicants with prior drunk driving issues to panel physicians in certain circumstances. The FAM text revision will read as follows:

"While alcoholism constitutes a medical condition, INA 212(a)(1)(A)(iii) does not refer explicitly to alcoholics or alcoholism. Evaluation for alcohol abuse or dependence is included in the evaluation for mental and physical disorders with associated harmful behavior. An alcoholic is not ineligible to receive a visa unless there is harmful behavior associated with the disorder that has posed, or is likely to pose, a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the alien or others. To ensure proper evaluation, you must refer applicants to panel physicians when they have a single drunk driving arrest or conviction within the last three calendar years or two or more drunk driving arrests or convictions in any time period. You also must refer cases to a panel physician if there is any other evidence to suggest an alcohol problem."
Labor Condition Application Violations

In a new amendment to the H-1B visa provisions at 9 FAM 41.53 N29, the State Department urges Consuls to report possible LCA violations such as underpayment of required wage and benching.

At the Consulates

Chennai: Consul-General David Hopper expressed concern at the increasing number of fake documents received by the Chennai Consulate, and cautioned visa applicants against seeking the help of brokers or agents.

Tel-Aviv: Attorneys may now be present at all E-1 and E-2 visa interviews both for individual workers and for company qualification.

Toronto: Peggy L. Petrovich, Chief, Visa Unit advises that Toronto will be undergoing some "scheduling crunches" over the next few months, due to implementation of the new 10-fingerprint process in the visa section.

Ms. Petrovich also gave advance notice about an expected drop in appointment availability in August. "Due to some pressing needs, appointment availability for all categories is expected to drop by 75%, with exceedingly limited E visa appointments. We will have a few periods of increased availability, but the lower numbers are expected to continue through mid-October. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause some of your clients, but we wanted to provide advance notice so that they may make other arrangements."

In the News

US Consulate in Hyberabad, India to Open

The new U.S. consulate in Hyderabad, India is scheduled to open its doors by the end of 2008. Initially, a temporary Consulate office will be located at the Paigah Palace which presently houses the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority office. The permanent office building is to be constructed at Madhapur, the city's IT hub, for which the state government had offered a 10-acre site. The Hyberabad consulate will be the fourth U.S. visa issuing post in India, after Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

Quote of the Corner:

Sandra Raynes, consular officer at the U.S. consulate in Tijuana, apparently defending the actions of U.S. border inspectors who rarely utilize new face-matching visas meant to stop terrorists and illegal aliens: "If they were to check everyone, you'd have lines all the way down to Cabo San Lucas." (Associated Press)

Consuls at Their Best:

Led by Consul General Jay Smith, 15 Foreign Service officers in the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, donated equipment to a local girls' volleyball team.

Consular Communications:

Chew this DOS guidance over, the next time your email to the Consular Officer goes unanswered.

99 State 21138: The relationship between consular officers and immigration attorneys can be productive. Consular officers can often learn a great deal from a conscientious attorney, and vice versa.

3 FAM 1332 POLICY: The treatment of our customers is an important aspect of how we are perceived as an agency. It is the policy of the Department that our employees must treat…our external customers, with proper respect and courtesy at all times.

3 FAH-2 H-126 COMMUNICATIONS: People won't listen to you if you won't listen to them.

All rights reserved.

About The Author

Liam Schwartz is a principal in Liam Schwartz & Associates, practicing in Israel. Schwartz. Liam serves as chair, Visa Committee, AMCHAM Israel, and is the former chair of the AILA - Department of State Liaison Committee. He can be reached at:

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.