9 FAM 601.87
SAMPLE VISA REFERRAL APPOINTMENT LETTER
(9 FAM Appendix K, Exhibit II; CT:VISA1779; 11302011)
a. Sample Text:
Dear (Applicant Name),
You are the subject of a visa referral and
1) your visa interview is scheduled
a) for (Date) at (Time).
Please arrive at the Embassy/Consulate early
a) to allow time for the security screening process.
Please understand that
a) all visa applicants,
i) including visa referral cases,
must demonstrate their qualification
i) for the class of visa
A) for which they are applying.
Fingerprints are required
a) for all visa applicants,
a) persons under age 14 and over age 79,
b) applicants for A and G visas
i) (government officials on official travel), and
c) certain medical emergencies.
The biometric process is a clean, inkless digital scan
a) of the fingers
i) that takes less than a minute.
If you have questions
a) about this process
1) please contact (insert appropriate contact) on (insert contact information).
The Consular Chief
b. Editable Letter:
For a Word version
a) of the REFERRAL APPOINTMENT LETTER
1) please click here.
9 FAM 601.88
MAINTAINING THE INTEGRITY OF THE NONIMMIGRANT VISA REFERRAL PROCESS
9 FAM 601.88(A)
Monitoring the Referral System
(Previous Location: 9 FAM Appendix K, 105; CT:VISA2066; 01272014)
a. The consular section must follow standard operating procedures to ensure that referrals are properly identified in the NIV system and that supporting documentation is properly scanned into the system (see 9 FAM 601.85). The referrals function in the NIV system is used to track visa referrals submitted by individual referrers. Referral information in NIV is comprised of two sets of information – the referrer’s information and the beneficiary applicant’s information. These two sets of information are associated with one another using the referral information window. How and when these sets of information are entered into NIV determines whether the process is initiated in the applicant information window or the referral information window. The referrer’s name should be the same in the NIV system as it is in the Department’s Global Address Listing (GAL). The referring agency and office must be specific and consistent; the use of Department of State generically is insufficient. Chapter 16 of the NIV User Manual contains further information on how to properly reflect referrals in the NIV system. Also, see 9 FAM 601.84 for adjudication steps.
b. Officers must follow correct procedures in NIV so that the referral program can be monitored and that officers’ referral patterns can be tracked from posttopost. Regular review of the reports generated through the NIV system on referring offices, agencies, and individuals can provide useful information and help prevent fraud and malfeasance. Merely scanning the referral form and attaching it to the case is not sufficient review and monitoring.
c. Consular sections must monitor all incoming referrals by using the NIV software to keep track of referral statistics, trends, and possible abuses. The notes in the system should reflect the name of the referring officer, the date of the referral, and any followup on the case.
d. The chief of the consular section is required to review the referral program at least once annually through a validation study or other method to determine whether there are individual instances or patterns of abuse of the system. Consular chiefs who believe there are problems with the operation of the referral system at their posts are invited to consult with CA/VO/F for advice on how to structure the program's operations.
e. Referral cases are monitored in Washington, DC by the Visa Office and the Consular Integrity Division (CID) in the office of Fraud Prevention Programs (CA/FPP). These reviews are designed to detect potential abuses of the referral system and to refer such instances to post management, Office of Employee Relations (DG/HR/ER), and Diplomatic Security (DS) for investigation and disciplinary action, as appropriate.
f. Proper use of the referral system is an appropriate topic for discussions at country team meetings and sessions between consular section chiefs and Chiefs of Mission, Deputy Chiefs of Mission, or Principal Officers.
9 FAM 601.88(B)
Abuse of the Referral System
(Previous Location: 9 FAM Appendix K, 106; CT:VISA2066; 01272014)
a. All referring and approving officers will be held accountable
i) understanding and
A) this Worldwide Visa Referral Policy in every referral case.
Abuse of the referral system may result in
a) a warning,
b) suspension, or
i) of referral privileges,
1) depending upon the seriousness
a) of the abuse.
The Chief of Mission,
a) in consultation with
i) the consular section chief,
ii) CA/VO/F, and
1) may suspend or revoke the authority
a) to make or approve referrals
b) from any particular referring/approving officer or
c) from an entire section or group of mission personnel
i) based on abuse of the system.
b. All potential abuses of the referral system must be referred to CA/VO/F for policy guidance and to CA/FPP/CID for investigation and coordination with DS and the Bureau of Human Resources (HR) for appropriate criminal or disciplinary action. Federal courts look seriously at referral abuse, and have prosecuted individuals for complicity in false immigration schemes based on signed referral forms. Intentional false statements made in furtherance of visa referrals can be prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. 1001.
c. The chief of the consular section is required to inform the COM, DCM, regional
security officer (RSO), CA/VO/F, and CA/FPP/CID in writing of any instances in which a particular referring officer or office/agency refers significant numbers of unqualified applicants. The Chief of Mission should be prepared to review the case and impose such penalties as he or she and the chief of the consular section believe appropriate. Posts are encouraged to consult with CA/VO/F and CA/FPP/CID for assistance in managing post’s response to instances of abuse.
d. Remember that all mission personnel are held to the Ethical Standards of Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch. 5 CFR 2635.101(b)(14) requires that U.S. Government employees "avoid any actions creating the appearance that they are violating the law or the ethical standards.” Attempts to relay information regarding a visa case outside of the referral process are categorically inappropriate. The only appropriate venue for expressing a preference that a case be issued or accorded procedural advantages is the referral system.
e. As part of the annual management controls certification, the consular section chief must certify the method by which the referral system has been reviewed (e.g., validation study or other means), and whether the validation studies or other methods of monitoring the referral program have uncovered any problems or instances of abuse, as stipulated in 9 FAM 601.88(A).
Monitoring the referral process and conducting annual validation studies are integral steps to ensure the integrity of the Referral Policy.
f. Communication regarding a visa referral may be made only to the consul general or the visa chief in the absence of the consul general. Any attempt to influence a consular officer or Foreign Service National employee regarding a visa case may be considered an abuse of the system.
9 FAM 601.88(C)
NIV Referral Program Ombudsman
(Previous Location: 9 FAM Appendix K, 107; CT:VISA1264; 08042009)
For those rare instances in which an officer may perceive undue pressure but feel unable to discuss it at post, Consular Affairs (CA) has established a referral program ombudsman who will discuss any concerns relating to a potential abuse of the referral system or a perception of pressure being exerted outside the referral system. The Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Consular Affairs is the ombudsman for consular officers on consular issues and for any questions of possible undue influence on post referral programs. The managing director of the Visa Office (CA/VO) will serve as the first point of contact for the officers in the field and will bring cases of concern to the immediate attention of the Assistant Secretary. Officers may contact the managing director by phone or email if they have concerns that undue pressure is being exerted within or outside the referral system.