US Embassy in Moscow – Part VI: Second Interviews – Kangaroo Courts in Moscow

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This is the sixth entry in our blog on negative changes at the US Embassy in Moscow over the past year.

Wikipedia defines “kanagaroo court” as “a sham legal proceeding or court. The outcome of a trial by kangaroo court is essentially determined in advance, usually for the purpose of ensuring conviction, either by going through the motions of manipulated procedure or by allowing no defense at all.  A kangaroo court’s proceedings deny, hinder or obstruct due process rights in the name of expediency.”  In reading letters of twice-denied applicants and talking to Russians who have re-applied for a visa after an initial denial, the image of a kanagaroo court comes to mind.

While the US Embassy in Moscow promises a fresh look at a visa re-application after a denial, conducted by a different consular officer, it is clear that the second officer is automatically deferring to the first officer.   For example, I recently received a letter from a young, successful Russian applicant who was denied at his initial interview.  His case was relatively complicated by Russian business realities – using offshore company structures to minimize taxation.  So he decided to re-apply and bring additional documents to a second interview in order to clarify issues for the consular officer.  But when he arrived, “there were hardly any questions, they didn’t review my documents, didn’t take my passport, just said ‘unfortunately, we cannot give you a US visa now.’”

Many say that this is a nice business for the Embassy: receiving $140 for every application and spending not more than one minute on an application for which the decision was predetermined.  But a business would not last long if it treated its “customers” like this.

The Embassy is not dealing with kangaroos – it is dealing with real people. And the Department of State’s own Customer Service Statement requires that the consular officer treat each application uniquely; a consular officer is obliged to keep an open mind and consider any evidence that an applicant has to provide.

If your re-application after a denial was treated dismissively by a consular officer, please contact us.