8 Commandments by which Every Consular Officer Must Live By

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One of the first things that I learned in Catholic School is the Ten Commandments.  We didn’t so much learn the Commandments as to have them seared into our memory, at our ready recall when the situation called for them.  Violating a commandment was cause for soul-searching and a trip to the confessional on the following Saturday.

Similarly, the visa applicant should know that consular officers have their own set of “commandments” that they must abide by, those set out in the Customer Service Statement to Visa Applicants (reproduced below verbatim).  This Statement specifies some rights to which visa applicants are entitled when applying for a visa (visa applicants are entitled to many more rights than those listed, a topic for a future blog).  Notable for their frequency of violation are “Commandments” #1, 2, 4, and 8 (I have added numbers for ease of reference).   For example, a consular officer cannot be rude to you; cannot profile you; cannot carry out a nominal interview; and cannot ignore a request for an explanation of the basis for the denial.

To ensure the vitality of these “commandments”, they need to be acted upon. If you feel that a consular officer has violated your rights, please feel free to contact us. We can help to bring these breaches to the attention of a “Higher Authority”.

Customer Service Statement to Visa Applicants

The Department of State manages the visa process strictly but fairly in order to best protect the United States.  We are committed to the essential openness for which the United States has always been known.  Travel to the United States is welcomed and encouraged.

We promise to you, the visa applicant, that:

1)    We will treat you with dignity and respect, even if we are unable to grant you a visa.

2)    We will treat you as an individual and your case as unique.

3)    We will remember that, to you, a visa interview may be a new or intimidating experience and that you may be nervous.

4)    We will use the limited time available for the interview to get as full a picture as possible of your travel plans and intentions.

5)    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.

6)    We will post detailed and accurate information on visa requirements and application procedures on every Embassy and Consulate website.

7)    We will provide information on nonimmigrant appointment waiting times at every Embassy and Consulate posted on http://travel.state.gov.

8)    We will explain the reason for any visa denial to you.