Part 4: Hadi Deeb: Tsar-Consul of Uzbekistan – “Despite what you think, you really are not divorced.”

Mssrs. R, Y, K, K, and D each submitted entries for the DV-2018 Lottery during the registration period in the fall of 2016. They each had been divorced by an Uzbek court before the Lottery, so they indicated in their entries that they were divorced.  Each of them was selected as a winner. After attending their interviews and presenting the court decisions as evidence of their divorce, they were advised by consular staff that they were being refused immigrant visas because they had not picked up their divorce certificates from the local registration office prior to submission of their entries: as a result, in the eyes of the Embassy, they were not officially divorced when they completed their Lottery entries.

While the Uzbek law on divorce is ambiguous, it has been in effect since 2011.  What is beyond dispute is that the issuance of a court decision renders the couple without any marital rights and they must relinquish their marriage certificates during the court case. From 2011 until 2017, the Embassy, including Mr. Deeb, interpreted the law to allow for the presentation of a divorce court decision as satisfying the requirement.  The US Embassy in Tashkent issued immigrant visas to Diversity Visa winners who presented divorce court decisions without any problem.

Then, Mr. Deeb decided to singlehandedly change this practice – without any advance notification to Uzbek DV applicants.  It was the above-mentioned gentlemen who became victims of this reinterpretation – without having any advance notice, after incurring substantial DV-Lottery fees and expenses in traveling to Tashkent and undergoing medical exams.  Because they relinquished their marriage certificates during their divorce proceedings, they were unable to submit a marriage certificate at the time of their visa interview. In other words, they would have been unable to qualify as “married” or “divorced” in the eyes of the US Embassy in Tashkent.[1]

As Mr. Deeb well knows, the problem is that the Diversity Visa registration period is 12-23 months before the actual visa interview.  DV entrants for DV-2018 completed their entries from October 4 to November 7, 2016.  They did so without any advance notice of the Embassy’s reinterpretation of Uzbek divorce law.  Had they known, they would have been able to pick up their divorce certificates before submitting their DV-2018 entries. This, in the eyes of Mr. Deeb, would have qualified them to receive immigrant visas.  Similarly, the registration period for DV-2019 was from October 18 to November 22, 2017.  Individuals who submitted their entries at that time  were also unaware of the newly-imposed Embassy requirement, and already after October/November 2017, were unable to correct the situation.

Incredibly, more than one year after the imposition of this new interpretation, neither the Embassy’s website nor DV instructions for Uzbek applicants warn Uzbek applicants. In fact, the Embassy’s own document list suggests that either a divorce decision or divorce certificate suffices. By failing to notify selectees in advance, the Embassy is setting up Uzbek visa applicants for visa refusals.  In other words, the Embassy knows that there will be applicants applying for Diversity Visas and paying Diversity Visa fees who will not qualify because they were unaware of this newly-imposed requirement. In doing so, Mr. Deeb and the Department of State are able to reallocate these visas to other individuals, with the Department of State able to receive new processing fees.

Perhaps most insulting, consular officials have discretion to issue visas in these circumstances. 9 FAM 502.6-4b.(2)(c)(iv).  As previously discussed, the Department of State recognizes that there will arise legal nuances that do not fit neatly into the requirements of the DV rules. In such situations, the Department has in place a residual rule that allows for the exercise of positive discretion, i.e., even if a consul believes that an applicant did not comply with the letter of the DV rules, a consul may issue the visa anyway.  The Embassy does not suspect fraud or misrepresentation in any of these divorce cases. Yet, not only did Mr. Deeb not exercise this discretion; he has made the conscious decision to not inform future applicants of his reinterpretation.

Finally, one wonders whether Mr. Deeb will now seek to rescind the US permanent resident status of individuals from Uzbekistan who had only presented divorce decisions at the time of applying for Diversity Visas from 2011-2017. Potentially, such a pursuit could impact the status of hundreds of Uzbeks and their families in the United States.  While this sounds farfetched and beyond the realm of possibility, keep in mind that it is 2018 – where conventional wisdom no longer applies, nothing is off-limits, and there is no predicting how far Mr. Deeb will go.

Make no mistake: the cases cited in these articles represent only a few examples of the numerous victims.  Mr. Deeb’s reign of consular tyranny continues today. His denial du jour in DV-2019 relates to the “improper” spelling of the applicant’s patronymic in the DV entry – using the proper English spelling instead of the Uzbek spelling indicated in the applicant’s passport.  I repeat the question posed in the second article of this series: would such discriminatory and systemic maltreatment of visa applicants by a US consular officer be tolerated in Western Europe? Isn’t it time that instead of circling the wagons, the Department of State steps in and does the right thing – removes Mr. Deeb from his post?  Isn’t it time to stop this Tsar-Consul who continues to wreak havoc and destroy the lives of legitimate, unsuspecting Uzbek visa applicants?


[1] One interesting side note is that the DV rules allow an applicant to exclude from the DV entry an ex-spouse or a spouse if legally separated.  This makes sense: the ex-spouse or the legally separated spouse will not be immigrating.  In such a case, the DV rules do not require a photograph of the ex-spouse or legally separated spouse.  This too makes sense: why would an ex-spouse or a separated spouse provide a photograph for inclusion in a DV entry?  But according to the Embassy in Tashkent, that exemption does not carry over to these “quasi-divorce” cases, notwithstanding the fact that the ex-spouse will not be immigrating and will not provide a photograph.

Posted in 212(a)(5)(A), 212(a)(6)(C), Alien Smuggling, Consular Officers, DV-2018, DV-2019, Foreign Affairs Manual, Misrepresentation, US Embassy Tashkent, Visa Denial, Visa Refusal | Leave a comment

Part 3: Hadi Deeb: Tsar-Consul of Uzbekistan – “You are not proficient in your 3rd and 4th languages? Sorry, you are denied.”

The case of Mr. B is illustrative of the consular tyranny prevailing in Tashkent and how Mr. Deeb has apparently impacted Department of State decisionmakers in formulating visa policy.

Mr. B. has a high school diploma and thereby satisfies the Diversity Visa education requirements.[1] He is of Tajik background and grew up in Uzbekistan, where he learned the Uzbek language.  Yet, when he attended his interview at the US Embassy in Tashkent, the consul tested not his knowledge of the Uzbek or Tajik languages, but his English- and Russian-language capabilities in violation of the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual:

(b) A DV refusal must be based on evidence that the alien did not in fact obtain the required degree and not on your assessment of the alien’s knowledge level. You may not administer an exam, either oral or written, to test an applicant’s basic knowledge in order to determine whether they have the equivalent of a U.S. high school education. You may not refuse a DV applicant solely on the basis of your analysis of the applicant’s basic knowledge. Doubts about the applicant’s claimed educational level raised by your interview, however, may lead you to investigate the authenticity of the educational credentials claimed by the DV applicant.  9 FAM 502-6-3(c)(4).

While Mr. B. studied some English and Russian more than 10 years ago, he had forgotten most of it. When he could not comprehend the text of the Russian-language article he was given to translate, the consul denied him for not meeting the education requirements. It is important to note that there was no accusation of fraud – no allegation that Mr. B had “bought” a diploma or presented a fake educational document. If that had been the case, he would have been found inadmissible under Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. But notwithstanding numerous follow-up requests to Mr. Deeb and the Visa Office, no explanation was ever provided as to how the education requirement was not met, in violation of 9 FAM 504.11-3(A)(1)(b)(2).

This story then took another turn – one for the worse.  Six months after the author raised this case with the State Department, the Visa Office rescinded this prohibition on consuls checking the knowledge of DV applicants. Prior to November 5, 2018, the remainder of the Education Evaluation rule as enunciated in the FAM read as follows:

(4) Education Evaluation:

(a) Each post needs to determine what course of study is equivalent to a high school education or its equivalent in the host country. Previously, posts were provided with a guidebook that provided information on high school equivalency country by country. That guidebook (“Foreign Education Credentials Required”) is no longer in print and is not available in updated format. You should not rely on it for your evaluation of high school credentials. You should make use of the resources found in your Public Diplomacy (PD) section to determine comparable courses of study in the host country that would meet the definition of a high school education or its equivalent. Contacts in the host country’s Ministry of Education may also be of help. If you have questions about certificates and diplomas, you should consult with your public diplomacy section, including Education USA advisors and locally engaged staff, as they are valuable resources in evaluating local education systems. PD personnel advise prospective students and evaluate their educational backgrounds and have experience with and knowledge of local schools. To determine the authenticity of any particular document, you will need to work with your Fraud Prevention staff to develop expertise in making that determination. Interviewing officers may wish to consult with other posts when in doubt about the authenticity of educational certificates from countries outside their consular district.

The new version of 9 FAM 502.6-3(C)(4) now reads:

(4)  (U) Education Evaluation:

(U) The burden of proving that an applicant’s education is equivalent to a high school degree is entirely on the applicant.  If the applicant does not satisfy you that the applicant’s education is equivalent to a high school degree but you believe additional evidence could meet the applicant’s burden, you should refuse the applicant under 221(g) and request the applicant to provide additional information.  If the applicant is unable to credibly prove the education equivalency requirement to your satisfaction, you should refuse the applicant 5A.

In short, the consular prohibition on testing the knowledge of applicants has been abolished.  Consuls are now given free rein to assess applicants’ basic knowledge and deny them if their “knowledge” is deemed inadequate. Consuls can now substitute their own assessment of an applicant’s knowledge in the place of the educational system of any DV-participating country. Think about that – the Department of State has decided that, in the course of a 5-10 minute interview, a consul can evaluate better than the educational establishment of a given country whether an applicant has the equivalent of a high school education.  And as can be seen in Mr. B’s case, this assessment can be in an applicant’s third and fourth languages!

In the next article the reader will learn how Mr. Deeb’s unilateral reinterpretation of Uzbek law and game of “hide the ball” has shattered the lives of unsuspecting visa applicants.


[1] 8 U.S.C. § 1153(c)(2).

Posted in 212(a)(5)(A), 212(a)(6)(C), Consular Officers, Department of State, DV-2018, DV-2019, Foreign Affairs Manual, Misrepresentation, Request For Reconsideration, US Embassy Tashkent, Visa Denial, Visa Refusal, Visa Rights | Leave a comment

Part 2: Hadi Deeb: Tsar-Consul of Uzbekistan – A Stillborn Baby, An Infertile Woman, and “Why aren’t you Married?”

As background, some information about the Diversity Lottery is in order. The State Department administers the Diversity Lottery program, which allows for individuals from low-immigration countries with a high-school education or its equivalent or certain work experience to qualify to immigrate to the United States.[1] Every year, more than 10 million individuals from all over the world participate, with approximately 100,000 selected to pursue the 50,000 visas available. The popularity of the Diversity Lottery extends to the citizens of Uzbekistan, a poor, predominantly Muslim country in Central Asia.

The annual Lottery is held in three stages: 1) a registration period, in which individuals submit their entries (in the fall); 2) selection and notification of the winners (spring); and 3) visa interviews/adjustment of status process (starting on October 1), at which time nonrefundable processing fees are paid. For selectees processing overseas, they must receive immigrant visas by September 30, or before September 30 if the allotment of 50,000 visas is exhausted. This means that if the selectee does not receive a visa by that date, his “winning Lottery ticket” becomes null and void.  As a part of the rules, a participant must include information about his or her spouse and minor children in the initial entries, as well as recent photographs of each family member.  The rules are relatively straightforward. Yet this non-complexity has not stopped Mr. Deeb from devising an array of creative pretexts to deny immigrant visas.

Take the situation of Mr. S. He and his wife had one child.  His wife also gave birth to a stillborn baby. Naturally, Mr. S did not include that baby in his entry.  Yet, the Embassy denied the family – saying that they really had two living children. Despite presenting medical documentation confirming the stillborn birth, as well as documentation from neighbors and government officials that they only had one living child, the family was refused.

Or consider the case of Mrs. B. She did not include in her entry or provide a photograph of her 3 day old baby because the baby did not have a legal name at that time nor a photograph.  In fact, the baby was still in the hospital.  Mr. Deeb denied Mrs. B, notwithstanding 9 FAM 502.6-4b.(2)(c)(iv), which allows for the exercise of positive consular discretion and the issuance of a visa in a situation where an individual does not follow to a tee the letter of the DV rules. Recognizing that unique situations will arise that do not fit neatly into the requirements of the DV rules, the Department of State put into place a residual rule that allows for the exercise of positive discretion, i.e., even if a consul believes that an applicant did not comply with the letter of the DV rules, a consul may issue the visa anyway.  The Diversity Visa rules were put into place to combat fraud, imposters, and other malevolent action, none of which was present in Mrs. B’s case.  Yet that did not stop Mr. Deeb from denying the visa – and filling the coffers of the Department of State with Mrs. B’s nonrefundable processing fees.

While profiling is specifically prohibited by Department of State rules,[2] that has not stopped Mr. Deeb from targeting “atypical” Uzbek applicants. Ms. Y lived with a boyfriend and was pregnant with their child.  With no evidence, Mr. Deeb’s staff accused her of being married and not including her husband in her DV entry.  She was denied.  Ms. R, another single woman, was denied because she too was accused of being married.  Ms. M. only had one child and because of hormonal changes, was unable to have any more children. She was denied because of a suspicion – with no evidence – of having more than one child.  This theme of “not enough kids” is common. For example, Ms. K was denied because she “only” had two children. Each of these individuals presented countervailing evidence – either medical documentation, letters from government officials, and/or affidavits from friends/relatives/community leaders – to no avail.

Interestingly, these applicants were all denied under the standard rejection formulation of not complying with the rules of the Lottery program, i.e., none of them was accused of fraud or committing a material misrepresentation although each had, according to Mr. Deeb, intentionally lied and fabricated evidence to support their cases. And while theoretically these applicants would not be barred from playing the Lottery again because of the “standard” denial, the reason for this refusal would mean that even if selected again (odds of <1%), they would not receive the visas.  Should Ms. K include a nonexisting child in her next entry to address consular suspicion of having another child? Should Ms. R get married – when Mr. Deeb believes she already is married?

Some Uzbek Lottery winners didn’t even experience the indignity of being formally denied.  Rather, they reported to the Embassy on the appointed day – but did not make it to their interviews.  Mr. S appeared for his immigrant visa interview at the Embassy in Tashkent as required, but was turned away from the interview – and his chance to immigrate to the United States – because there was a mark on his $20 bill, unacceptable for the cashier. Similarly, Ms. R was turned away from her interview by a cashier because she had purportedly failed to submit her visa application form – when in fact she had.  Requests to Mr. Deeb to reschedule their interviews and correct these travesties were ignored.

This is just a small sampling of egregious cases. The magnitude of such consular tyranny in Tashkent leads one to consider: would such action take place at a US Embassy in Western Europe? If it did, would it be allowed to continue unfettered? Certainly not. The resulting scandal and public outcry would ensure that such action would be immediately shut down. Yet Mr. Deeb – with the continued backing of the Department of State – persists.  Tomorrow’s article will detail another creative denial – and how that denial has led the Department of State to further empower consuls like Mr. Deeb.



[1]   8 U.S.C. § 1153(c)(2). “Requirement of education or work experience. – An alien is not eligible for a visa under this subsection unless the alien – (A) has at least a high school education or its equivalent, or (B) has, within 5 years of the date of application for a visa under this subsection, at least 2 years of work experience in an occupation which requires at least 2 years of training or experience.”

[2] See e.g., 9 FAM 403.10-3(A)(1) and State Department’s Customer Service Statement

Posted in 212(a)(5)(A), 212(a)(6)(C), 212(a)(6)(E), Alien Smuggling, Consular Officers, DV-2018, DV-2019, Foreign Affairs Manual, Misrepresentation, US Embassy Tashkent, Visa Denial, Visa Refusal, Visa Rights | Leave a comment

Hadi Deeb: Tsar-Consul of Uzbekistan

They call him The Tsar.  And deservedly so.

Who else can unilaterally, singlehandedly reinterpret Uzbek divorce law to deny numerous  Uzbek Diversity Visa applicants?  Who else can crush immigrant dreams using a variety of creative pretexts: disqualifying an applicant for failing to include a 3 day old baby (with no legal name) in a DV entry; a single woman for failing to include her nonexistent husband in her DV entry; a family for not including a second child in their entry, a child who was stillborn? Who else can have his staff ask a single woman applicant why she is not married or an infertile woman why she does not have more children? Who else can test an applicant’s knowledge of his third and fourth languages – i.e., not his native language and the language he learned in school – in black letter violation of the Department of State’s own rules to deny a visa?  Who else can blatantly disregard the Department of State’s own rules by failing to provide the factual basis for immigrant visa denials?  Who else can deny a visa – just because…? In this four-part series of articles, consular excess – in the person of the Consular Chief at the US Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Hadi Deeb – will be examined.

In the Age of Trump, it would seem that nothing can surprise – but everything can shock. The case of Mr. Deeb certainly shocks – even to this lawyer who has practiced immigration law for 25 years.  Remember, while immigration matters in the United States are at least subject to some checks and balances, with the judicial system providing some legal safety net, visa applicants overseas have no such legal buffer or security. With very limited exception, the doctrine of consular nonreviewability puts consular decisions and actions outside the purview of the courts. Apparently, Mr. Deeb counts on this to insulate his capricious and discriminatory decisions from public view.

To be clear, no one begrudges consular verifications of visa applicant credentials. Tashkent is a high-fraud post, and this practitioner applauds efforts to weed out fraud.  Yet the existence of such fraud does not give license to serial mistreatment of and discrimination against Uzbek visa applicants. Approximately 10 years ago, the Embassy in Tashkent was similarly headed by abusive consular officers – John Ballard, Rafael Perez, and Meredith Rubin. But the Visa Office in the Department of State stepped in at that time to curb consular abuses. In the Age of Trump, that is no longer the case.

Perhaps worst of all, it now appears that at least one manifestation of Mr. Deeb’s consular excesses has seeped into new rules recently released by the Department of State. That is to say, Mr. Deeb has influenced policymakers in the Department of State to further empower consular officers to act on whims, caprices, and in bad faith. The following articles will discuss in more detail some of the victims of this consular fiat in Uzbekistan.

Posted in 212(a)(6)(C), 221(g), Consular Officers, DV-2017, DV-2018, DV-2019, Green Card Lottery, Misrepresentation, Pop-up Marriage, Request For Reconsideration, US Embassy Tashkent, Visa Rights | Leave a comment

Rights of Visa Applicants

You have rights.  Yes, if you have been denied a visa, you have rights.

The Department of State’s Customer Statement lists only some of those rights, as follow:

We promise to you, the visa applicant, that:

  • We will treat you with dignity and respect, even if we are unable to grant you a visa.
  • We will treat you as an individual and your case as unique.
  • We will remember that, to you, a visa interview may be a new or intimidating experience and that you may be nervous.
  • We will use the limited time available for the interview to get as full a picture as possible of your travel plans and intentions.
  • We will use our available resources to fairly assist all applicants to get appointments to allow travel in time for business, study, and other important obligations.
  • We will post detailed and accurate information on visa requirements and application procedures on every Embassy and Consulate website.
  • We will provide information on nonimmigrant appointment waiting times at every Embassy and Consulate posted on https://travel.state.gov.
  • We will explain the reason for any visa denial to you.
  • We will explain the reason for any visa denial to you.

Those are your basic rights.  Beyond those basic rights, you also have specific legal rights.

Visa applicants are entitled to “every reasonable opportunity to establish eligibility to receive a visa.”  This applies to all visa applicants.

For those refused for making a material misrepresentation (Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act), the consul must be “receptive” to new documentation and information.  The consul must review any new documentation and information that you present to challenge this life-changing and draconian decision to permanently bar you from the United States.

Every denied immigrant visa applicant is entitled to request reconsideration of a refused application. This means that if you have additional documentation or information that calls into question the decision to deny your immigrant visa, you have the right to submit it and have the consul review this new evidence.  For parents of a US citizen applying to immigrate but found to be inadmissible for making a material misrepresentation, there is no waiver available. Given their expressed immigrant intent, they also will most likely not qualify for a nonimmigrant waiver. Therefore, the stakes cannot be any higher in challenging the accuracy of this decision.

While the actual reason behind the decision to deny a B visitor or F-1 student visa under Section 214(b) may be difficult to receive from a consular officer, you have the right to learn the rationale behind a denial of an immigrant visa. By learning the rationale behind the denial, you will better understand the reason and be in a better position to challenge that decision.

If you were denied a visitor or student visa, you do have the right to re-apply for a visa – without time limitation (the next day, one month later, six months later, etc…).

Finally, visa decisions must be made in “good faith” and be “bona fide”. This means that the consul cannot deny a visa just to punish you; there must be a valid factual and legal rationale to do so.

By not asserting your rights, you are in essence agreeing or reconciling yourself with the decision.  No one has had a negative visa decision overturned or overcome by doing nothing.  If you would like assistance in asserting your rights, please contact us.

Posted in 212(a)(6)(C), 214(b), F-1 Visa, Family Immigration, Misrepresentation, Nonimmigrant Waiver, Request For Reconsideration, Visa Denial, Visa Refusal, Visa Rights, Waiver | Leave a comment

Top 12 Reasons for Visa Revocation

Over the past couple of years, we have seen a dramatic surge in the number of visa revocations. Every day our office is contacted by individuals who have had the misfortune of having their visas revoked, so we thought this would be a good opportunity to catalog the most prolific reasons for visa revocations.

This blog is not about the Trump Travel Ban and the more than 100,000 visas revoked under it.  It also is not about the revocation of visas at US airports upon arrival, nor consular recommendations to revoke USCIS approvals of employment petitions.  Rather, it is about the tens of thousands of visa revocations initiated by the Department of State and consular officers around the world every year.  This article will list the 12 most “popular” reasons for visa revocations. These visa revocations are triggered by new material information which crops up after the original issuance, calling into question whether the visa holder remains eligible for a visa or admissible to the United States.

  1. Arrest.  An arrest for a variety of crimes can trigger visa revocation: a DUI, shoplifting, drug possession, domestic violence, selling alcohol to a minor. This is true even if the charges are dismissed, or the underlying crime in and of itself is not an adequate basis to find a person inadmissible. Often the revocation request is sent out by the corresponding law enforcement agency to the Department of State, and within 24 hours, DOS will take action to revoke the visa.
  2. Violations of visa status or conduct in the US inconsistent with representations in the visa process.  Spending several months in the US in B status may trigger a suspicion of unlawful employment and a visa revocation. Giving birth in the US may lead to a consular contention of being a public charge and visa revocation.  Providing misleading information during the visa process – such as indicating a proposed stay for two weeks and staying for several months – is another reason for a visa revocation.  A child who enrolls in elementary school in the US without a student visa may lead to the revocation of the child’s visa, along with his parent’s.
  3. Security.  No-fly, terrorist, and a variety of watch lists are constantly being updated. Not only do these lists encompass the individuals themselves, but known family members, friends, and associates and associates of the associates, as well. The revocation net is being cast farther and farther afield.
  4. A denied immigrant visa application.  A refusal of an immigrant visa may lead to the cancellation of a valid nonimmigrant visa. For example, a Diversity Lottery winner who is denied for not properly filling in the entry may have his B visa cancelled because the intent to immigrate is inconsistent with the terms of a B visa.
  5. A refused nonimmigrant visa application. For example, an individual applying for a student visa who is denied may have his valid visitor visa revoked because of the suspicion that he will use it to illicitly enroll in school in the US.  Or an individual applying for an employment visa who is refused may have his visitor visa revoked because of a consular belief that the individual will travel to the US and try to work anyway.
  6. A failed nonimmigrant visa application of a family member.  This is another reason why a visa may be revoked. For example, a visa holder wishes to travel to the US with her minor son, and applies for a visa for her son.  The consul then denies the visa for the son, and suspecting that the holder does not plan to return to the home country, cancels the valid visa.
  7. A family member in the US engaging in suspicious conduct.  A spouse in the home country may be answerable with a visa revocation because her husband is spending an inordinate amount of time in the US in visitor status.
  8. A poison pen letter. No matter how outlandish, the consul may give credence to a letter to the embassy from an ex-spouse, former business partner, ill-wisher, or jilted lover that accuses a visa holder of engaging in illicit activity or conduct inconsistent with the visa.
  9. Inaccurate information in a visa application. After the issuance of the visa, the consul verifies information in the application form.  If she is unable to verify that information – for example, the phone number or address listed for the employer is inaccurate – then the visa may be revoked. We see this happen when a third party, such as a travel agent or consultant, negligently (or deliberately inaccurately) fills in a visa application form on behalf of the client.
  10. Alien smuggling. While one may think of alien smuggling as the physical process of illicitly transporting individuals across the border, it actually covers numerous situations and individuals. Organizers of group trips to the US and employees of a travel agency sending tourists to the US may have their visas revoked if they are suspected of improperly facilitating travel for those who otherwise would not receive visas. For example, if the agency is engaged in arranging bogus employment confirmations, all employees of the agency may be impacted with the revocations of their visas.
  11. Conduct after receipt of the visa but before traveling to the US.  For example, applying for a visitor visa, receiving it, and then posting a resume on an American recruiting website seeking a job is grounds for revocation.  (Yes, consuls and their staff do such investigations.)
  12. Other circumstances. For example, a local employee of the US embassy who resigns from his position may have his visa revoked.

As you can see, the reasons for the revocation of a visa vary greatly. But just because a visa has been revoked, does not mean that it is impossible to obtain a new visa. Every situation is different. If your visa has been revoked, contact us to discuss your visa options.

Posted in Alien Smuggling, Misrepresentation, Petition Revocation, Revocation, Visa Denial, Visa Refusal, Visa Revocation | Leave a comment

Part 4: (In)Voluntary Statements of Visa Applicants at the US Consular Posts in India – Are US Consular Officers Engaging in Unethical and Unlawful Conduct?

So to summarize the first three articles in this series, under threat of immigration and criminal consequences, consular staff in India have compelled visa applicants to write and sign Voluntary Statements.  This staff have refused to turn over copies of the Voluntary Statements to the applicants;[1] used false pretenses to entice applicants to sign the Statements; and dictated the text of the Statements, which may contain material misstatements leading to decisions to bar the applicants.

So if the Statements are “voluntary”, as consular staff insist, and the false statements therein subject the applicants to immigration and criminal consequences, what consequences should befall the initiators and overseers – consular staff and their managers – of the false statements?

U.S. law has a number of criminal statutes dealing with false statements. 18 U.S.C. § 1621 is the perjury statute, providing for imprisonment up to five years and a fine.[2]  The perjury can be made orally or in writing. There is also a false statement statute: with limited exception, “in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States,” for those who “knowingly and willfully -

(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;

(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or

(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;”

they shall be fined and/or imprisoned for up to 5 years.  18 U.S.C. § 1001.

In addition, there is criminal liability not only for the person making the false statement, but to others intricately involved with the false statement. For example, there is a subornation of perjury statute: “Whoever procures another to commit any perjury is guilty of subornation of perjury, and shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.” 18 U.S.C. § 1622.  There is a statute which holds “principals” criminally liable: “(a) Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal. (b) Whoever willfully causes an act to be done which if directly performed by him or another would be an offense against the United States, is punishable as a principal.” 18 U.S.C. § 2.

Let’s return to the pre-printed text of the Voluntary Statement.  The Voluntary Statement makes it clear that the signatory can be fined or imprisoned for knowingly and willfully making a material false statement. 18 U.S.C. § 1001.  Consular staff in India use the “carrot” approach to get applicants to cooperate and write and sign statements, sometimes with materially inaccurate information: “Please co-operate and write as I say, otherwise it will make you permanently ineligible for the visa.”  They “threatened me that they will [b]an me from going back to USA if I don’t agree with their version of the story.”  In using this “carrot” approach, consular staff use the possibility of receiving a visa to entice the applicants to “knowingly and willfully mak[e] a material false statement,” subjecting the applicants to a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001.  In doing so, consular staff would appear to be “command[ing], induc[ing], or procur[ing]” the applicant to write a false statement – in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2.

“But consular staff are honest and conscientious people,” you say: “they wouldn’t knowingly force someone to make a false statement.”  And you will get no argument from the author – that consular staff are overwhelmingly honest and conscientious people, so let’s assume that is true for a moment.  But what happens if a mistake was made at the time of the compilation of the Voluntary Statement, that at that time consular staff believed the information to be true, but later, they become aware of incontrovertible and irrefutable information that the statements were not true: they become aware that the misrepresentation or alien smuggling findings were based on materially inaccurate information, information that had served as the basis for the finding.

One would think that a conscientious consular officer would take action to rectify the situation: invite the applicant back and overturn the error. But that is not the case in Mumbai, where consular staff under Michael Evans on at least two occasions known to the author refused to do so. Rather, consular staff in Mumbai “circled the wagons” around their own – stonewalling and ignoring irrefutable evidence.  By refusing to correct the errors, they have turned the lives of at least 5 applicants upside down, including prohibiting three of them to immigrate (one of whom was unable to say goodbye to her mother in the United States before her passing).

The Department of State rules governing visa adjudications are clear: all visa applicants are to be given “every reasonable opportunity to establish eligibility to receive a visa.” 9 FAM 306.2-1. Per 22 CFR § 42.81(e), denied immigrant applicants have a right to request reconsideration of an immigrant visa refusal.  In India, apparently this means that the applicants have a right to request reconsideration, but consular staff do not have to actually reconsider erroneous decisions.  That would be “unreasonable”.

Consular staff in India have at the least engaged in unethical behavior by not taking corrective action.  By forcing applicants to sign false statements, statements which by their text implicate US criminal statutes, and not taking steps to correct these statements upon learning of their falsity, it would appear that this staff arguably have also engaged in unlawful conduct.  This raises a multitude of questions: why haven’t the past and current Consul Generals in Mumbai – Thomas Vajda and Ed Kagan – both of whom are aware of this consular misconduct, taken any steps to discipline or terminate the wrongdoers? Why haven’t they taken steps to ensure that these abominable decisions were overturned – decisions which have wrecked lives? Why haven’t they abolished a “voluntary” process that is not voluntary at all? Why do the US consular posts in India continue to subject Indian visa applicants to an abusive process that, apparently, visa applicants around the world are not subject to? Mr. Kagan? Mr. Vajda? Ambassador Juster? What do you say?

You can be sure that neither Mr. Kagan nor Mr. Vajda, who is now the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, will do anything. Numerous attempts to reason before were met by deafening silence. They will not apologize to the affected applicants. They will not terminate this abusive process. They will not instruct staff to turn over sworn statements to applicants. They will not direct staff to stop the bullying and coercion.  Apparently, they believe that it is permissible to abuse and disrespect Indian visa applicants.

That is why I am calling on the Office of Inspector General at the Department of State to open an immediate investigation into consular misconduct in Mumbai. That is why I am calling on OIG to take prompt action to terminate this abusive “Voluntary Statement” process throughout India. That is why I am calling on OIG to refer for disciplinary action overzealous, coercive staff who continue to abuse the visa process and applicants.  It is time for this maltreatment to stop.

I will be sure to keep ILW readers and readers of this blog posted on any progress.

[1] On one occasion, the post in Mumbai required a “justification” before it would turn over statements.

[2] “Whoever— (1) having taken an oath before a competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any case in which a law of the United States authorizes an oath to be administered, that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony, declaration, deposition, or certificate by him subscribed, is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true; or

(2) in any declaration, certificate, verification, or statement under penalty of perjury as permitted under section 1746 of title 28, United States Code, willfully subscribes as true any material matter which he does not believe to be true;

is guilty of perjury….”

Posted in 212(a)(6)(C), 212(a)(6)(E), Alien Smuggling, Consular Officers, Department of State, Misrepresentation, Office of Inspector General Department of State, US Consulate Chennai, US Consulate Hyderabad, US Consulate Mumbai, US Embassy Delhi, Visa Fraud, Voluntary Statement | Leave a comment

Part 3: (In)Voluntary Statements of Visa Applicants at the US Consular Posts in India – Are US Consular Officers Engaging in Unethical and Unlawful Conduct?

So why don’t consular officers wish to give copies of these Voluntary Statements to visa applicants? Maybe because they are not so “voluntary” after all.

As explained to me by several visa applicants from India, they do not voluntarily provide these statements. Rather, they are bullied, coerced, and compelled to write the statements. Worse, consular staff dictate the text of the statement under threat of permanent bar from the United States.  Even worse, the statements often contain materially erroneous information.

One applicant said that US consular staff “threatened me that they will [b]an me from going back to USA if I don’t agree with their version of the story.”  Another stated: “At the end when she asked me to write down the statement, she especially [sic] dictated the whole thing to me.” Not only had this applicant been advised to indicate wrong information in her statement, but the officer attempted to ingratiate herself by saying that she was “only trying to help her.” One can guess the outcome: both of these applicants were permanently barred from the United States by consular staff.

Other applicants were advised: “Please co-operate and write as I say, otherwise it will make you permanently ineligible for the visa.” Consular staff then dictated the text of the statements for the applicants to sign. They too were permanently barred from the United States.

Another applicant told me that “every point” in the statements of him and his wife “were pretty much dictated.” Consular staff made them “twist the facts”, thereby incriminating themselves in a case of smuggling and misrepresentation. They were found permanently inadmissible to the United States.

This is disturbing, to say the least.  Consular staff are engaging in coercion and bullying and forcing applicants to write so-called “Voluntary Statements” against their will. Even more disturbing is the lack of legal mechanisms to address such behavior – with the Office of Inspector General having limited jurisdiction and appetite to deal with consular misconduct in the field; the Visa Office shrugging its collective shoulders at such allegations;[1] and top consular management at the posts in India “in” on the abuse.[2]

Well, you say, the visa applicants were probably “guilty”, that they got what was coming to them, that consular officers are trained to know when an applicant is lying.

In some cases – perhaps most of them – that is certainly true. We see that sometimes in the United States in the criminal context – where suspects sign on to “confessions” admitting their guilt under the pressure, influence, and coercion of police officers.  But what about other cases – where the visa applicant did not engage in the behavior he was being accused of and under the threat of permanent inadmissibility, he writes a text dictated to him and signs a Voluntary Statement, hoping that he will receive the visa.[3]

More alarmingly, what if the consular officer knows or has reason to know that the information contained in the Voluntary Statement – one that subjects the applicant to a permanent bar from the United States and criminal liability for making a false statement in an official, sworn document – is substantively and demonstrably erroneous? What consequences should befall that consular officer – and consular management privy to that demonstrably erroneous information – for not taking corrective measures?  That topic will be explored in the next article of this series.

[1] LegalNet, the Visa Office’s liaison with the public on legal issues relating to the adjudication of visa applications, has announced that it will “provide substantive responses only to the following categories of inquiries:

(1)  (U) Legal questions about a specific case when the applicant or representative has attempted to contact post at least twice without receiving a final response, and where 30 days have passed since the second inquiry (unless action is required sooner to avert significant harm to the applicant);(2)  (U) Legal questions about a specific case in which the applicant or representative has received a final response from post, but believes it to be wrong as a matter of law;(3)  (U) Legal questions about specific cases involving T visas, U visas, Diversity visas, or adoption visas; and(4)  (U) Legal questions about specific cases involving the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) or the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).” 9 FAM 103.4-2.

[2] For example, recent correspondence on such a matter by the author to Ed Kagan, Consul General in Mumbai, was ignored.

[3] Akin to a false confession in the criminal context.

Posted in 212(a)(6)(C), 212(a)(6)(E), Alien Smuggling, Consular Officers, Department of State, Misrepresentation, Office of Inspector General Department of State, US Consulate Chennai, US Consulate Hyderabad, US Consulate Mumbai, US Embassy Delhi, Visa Fraud, Voluntary Statement | Leave a comment

Part 2: (In)Voluntary Statements of Visa Applicants at the US Consular Posts in India – Are US Consular Officers Engaging in Unethical and Unlawful Conduct?

The first indicator of the questionable nature of these Voluntary Statements are the lengths to which consular officers go to obstruct their disclosure to the visa applicant. As a general rule and enshrined by Section 222(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, visa records are considered confidential and not subject to disclosure. However, there is an exception for documentation submitted by the applicant; such documents are subject to disclosure.

In the case of the Voluntary Statements in India, the consular officer does not give a copy to the applicant at the conclusion of the interview.  This, notwithstanding the draconian visa consequences and criminal liability that the applicant has been exposed to by signing the Voluntary Statement.

The consular officer’s “Bible”, the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM), makes it abundantly clear that these statements are releasable to the applicant:

2. d. (U) Documents Releasable to Applicant: The documents listed below
are deemed releasable to an applicant as they constitute the applicant’s
original source documents. Consequently, returning the following documents
to the applicant does not violate the INA 222(f) requirement of
confidentiality. These documents include:

(1) (U) Correspondence previously sent to or given to the applicant by the
post;
(2) (U) Civil documents presented by the applicant (see paragraph (f)
below); and
(3) (U) Visa applications and any other documents, including sworn
statements
, submitted by the applicant to you in the form in which they
were submitted; i.e., with any remarks or notations by U.S. Government
employees deleted.​​

9 FAM 603.2-8 (d). Emphasis added.

The legacy FAM, i.e., the predecessor to the current version of the Foreign Affairs Manual, had an identical requirement.[1]

So why is it that an applicant’s requests for a copy of these statements are routinely ignored by consular staff in India?  Why is it that these applicants often must hire a lawyer to obtain a copy of a document that they are entitled to under the law? The author first brought this to the attention of the Visa Office more than five years ago, yet consular officers in India to this day continue to rebuff requests for these Statements – in fact, misleading applicants into believing that, “under US immigration law,” they are not entitled to copies of these Statements. Why? Hints will come in the next article in this series.

[1] 9 FAM 40.4 N5.3 (Documents Releasable to Applicant: “visa applications and any other documents, including sworn statements, submitted by the applicant to you…”).

Posted in 212(a)(6)(C), 212(a)(6)(E), Alien Smuggling, Consular Officers, Department of State, Misrepresentation, Office of Inspector General Department of State, Uncategorized, US Consulate Chennai, US Consulate Hyderabad, US Consulate Mumbai, US Embassy Delhi, Visa Fraud, Voluntary Statement | Leave a comment

(In)Voluntary Statements of Visa Applicants at US Consular Posts in India – Are US Consular Officers Engaging in Unethical and Unlawful Conduct?

Consular officers at the US Consulates and Embassy in India periodically require visa applicants to write “Voluntary Statements.”  These Statements are used as admissions of guilt to deny and permanently bar visa applicants. But what is little known are the circumstances under which these “Voluntary Statements” are written – and the legal aspects of these Statements, some of which may in fact implicate consular officers themselves in potentially unethical and unlawful conduct.  In this four-part series of articles, visa applicant and consular behavior, as well as the circumstances under which these Voluntary Statements are used, will be examined.

As background, to the personal knowledge of the author, the Embassy in New Delhi, the Consulate General in Hyderabad, and the Consulate General in Mumbai (under Consular Section Chief Michael Evans) have all used these Voluntary Statements against visa applicants in India.  Peculiarly, it does not appear that consular officers at other posts outside India use these Voluntary Statements, and it is not altogether clear why only Indian visa applicants are being singled out.

For those unfamiliar with the Voluntary Statements, it is Form DS-5529[1] – with pre-printed text and space for the incorporation of the actual statement of the applicant. In Mumbai, the heading of the Form reads:

U.S. Department of State

Embassy of the United States of America Consular Section

Mumbai (Bombay), India

VOLUNTARY STATEMENT

The preamble of the Voluntary Statement reads as follows:

I, [visa applicant], hereby make the following statement voluntarily to [name of US consular officer] who has identified himself/herself to me as an employee of the United States Department of          State. I understand and agree that this statement may be used in an administrative or judicial proceeding, including a criminal proceeding, and that I may be identified in any such proceeding, and that I may be identified in any such proceeding as the person making the statement:

The standard form then provides space for the handwritten text of the Statement.  At the end of the Statement, the pre-printed text then states:

I have read the above statement and it is true, and complete to the best of my knowledge and belief. I have initialed each page and have been given an opportunity to make any connections or additions. I have initialed each line where a correction has been made.

This statement is made by my own free will and accord without any promises of reward and without threats, force or coercion used against me. I have been advised and I understand that this statement may be used for or against me in a court of law or any proceeding deemed necessary by the United States Government.

I have been advised and also understand that the laws of the United States provide severe penalties for making a false statement, and that a person who knowingly and willfully makes a material false, fictitious or fraudulent statement shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than $20,000 or imprisoned not more than 5 years or both (18 U.S.C. 1001).

The statement is then signed and dated by the visa applicant, with another line below for a witness signature. The pre-printed text then reads:

Consular Officer Statement

Subscribed to and sworn to before me this ___ day of ______, at __________

Witness (Consular Officer)  _____________________________     [SEAL]

The consular officer then indicates the date and signs his/her name

Below the signature is space for a Translator Statement and signature if an interpreter was used.

The Voluntary Statement is typically used at the posts in India when a consular officer has identified some fraudulent behavior that the applicant has engaged in. To ensure no misunderstandings and memorialize the bad behavior, the consular officer has the applicant first admit in writing to the misconduct and then hands down a consequent denial decision: for example, a Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) finding of a willful, material misrepresentation or a Section 212(a)(6)(E) alien smuggling determination. The misrepresentation determination may arise in a myriad of situations, such as an applicant presenting false information about his job or marital status in making a visitor visa application, or providing misleading documentation regarding his ability to pay for his tuition or acceptance to a US university in a student visa application. For an alien smuggling finding, an immigrant visa parent applicant may misrepresent the age or marital status of his or her child, or an employment visa applicant may misrepresent his marital status to obtain an accompanying visa for a significant other who is not his spouse.

These are typical, garden-variety situations in which the consul may proffer the Voluntary Statement and have the offending party write a statement and sign. But what happens when the situation is…more complicated?

 

[1] There is no listing for this form among the forms on the Department of State’s website – https://eforms.state.gov/  Given the poor quality of the boilerplate forms used, it appears that consular officers in India have been making copies of copies of the form.

 

 

Posted in 212(a)(6)(C), 212(a)(6)(E), Alien Smuggling, Consular Officers, Misrepresentation, Office of Inspector General Department of State, US Consulate Chennai, US Consulate Hyderabad, US Consulate Mumbai, US Embassy Delhi, Visa Fraud, Voluntary Statement | Leave a comment