Live: U.S. Politics
MRN: 17 STATE 93402
Date/DTG: Sep 12, 2017 / 120125Z SEP 1
From: SECSTATE WASHDC
Action: ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS COLLECTIVE ROUTINE
TAGS: CMGT, CVIS, DHS, SL, 1A, 1W
Reference: A) 17 STATE 9540
B) 17 CONAKRY 53
C) 17 STATE 77186
D) 17 CONAKRY 148
E) 17 CONAKRY 142
F) 17 STATE 93392
Subject: GUIDANCE ON THE SUSPENSION OF CERTAIN VISAS IN GUINEA
1. (U) Summary: Effective September 13, the United States will discontinue the issuance of nonimmigrant B1, B2, B1/B2, F1, F2, J1, J2, M1, and M2 visas to Guinean government officials and their immediate families because DHS has determined that Guinea is denying or unreasonably delaying acceptance of the return of its citizens from the United States. The suspension does not apply to Guineans applying outside Guinea, although posts encountering such applicants should consult the guidance in paragraphs 7-8 concerning out-of-district cases. Further expansions or lifting of the visa restrictions may be announced in the future depending on Guinea’s cooperation on removals. The suspension also does not invalidate or serve as a basis for revocation of visas already issued. This cable provides background and guidance on the visa suspension. All public inquiries regarding visa issuance suspension in Eritrea should be directed to CA/P. All operational inquiries should go to CA/VO. End Summary.
2. (U) On August 16, 2017, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Duke notified Secretary Tillerson that Guinea has denied or unreasonably delayed the return of its nationals currently in ICE detention (Ref A). Therefore, pursuant to INA Section 243(d), Secretary Tillerson has ordered consular officers in Guinea to discontinue granting B1, B2, B1/B2, F1, F2, J1, J2, M1, and M2 nonimmigrant visas to Guinean government officials and their immediate family members.
3. (U) The U.S. government believes that every country has an obligation under international law to accept the return of its nationals who are ineligible to remain in the United States or any other country. The United States Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (DHS/ICE) asks foreign governments to facilitate the return of their nationals by issuing valid travel documents and accepting the appropriate flights.
4. (SBU) The Department of State assists ICE through diplomatic engagement with foreign governments in Washington and at our embassies and consulates overseas. ICE designates as "Uncooperative" those countries that are uncooperative in taking back their nationals or issuing travel documents on time. ICE's Removals Cooperation Initiative (RCI) calculation includes 12 uncooperative countries and an additional 47 "At Risk of Non-Compliance" countries that have not cooperated completely. ICE recalculates this list periodically. The Department will share these lists with affected posts.
5. (SBU) For many years, State and ICE have worked with uncooperative countries at all levels to improve cooperation on removals. We consider all options at our disposal, taking into account complex bilateral relationships, foreign policy priorities, and other extenuating circumstances. In many cases, diplomatic efforts are successful to address the problem. However, Guinea was not responsive, causing the Secretary of Homeland Security to notify State, triggering the requirement to discontinue visa issuance. The Secretary of State has decided to initially target these B1, B2, B1/B2, F1, F2, J1, J2, M1, and M2 visa applicants. If Guinea continues to refuse or unreasonably delay the return of its nationals, the suspension may be expanded to include additional categories of visa applicants. Conversely, should the Secretary of Homeland Security notify the Secretary of State that Guinea has resumed cooperation, visa restrictions will be lifted.
Operational Mechanics at Embassy Conakry
6. (SBU) In accordance with an Order of the Secretary of State under section INA 243(d), consular officers at Embassy Conakry will, starting September 13, 2017, discontinue the issuance of all B1, B2, B1/B2, F1, F2, J1,.J2, M1, and M2 nonimmigrant visas to Guinean government officials and their immediate family members. For the duration of the suspension, Embassy Conakry will accept applications, interview, and refuse ineligible cases as usual (e.g. under INA 214(b) or INA 212(a), etc.). For purposes of processing and tracking, consular officers there will refuse in NIV, under refusal code “243(d),” all visas considered approvable but for the visa suspension. Embassy Conakry will submit visa applications possibly falling within one of the exceptions in the Secretary’s order to the Department for an Advisory Opinion.
Guinean Applicants Applying Outside Guinea
7. (SBU) 9 FAM 601.12-3(E) precludes you from accepting the applications of designated nationals of 243(d) countries if the applicant is not a resident of your consular district. Posts should note that INA 243(d) applies only to visa issuance in Guinea; therefore, B, F, J, and M applications from the specific categories of Guineans described in the paragraphs above could still be issued in another country. 9 FAM 403.2-4(B) states that the authority to reject an applicant based solely on non-residence “will seldom, if ever, be used.” If a covered individual who is not a resident of their consular district is not eligible for a visa, then consular officers outside Guinea should refuse under INA 214(b), INA 212(a), or the other relevant refusal code as in any other adjudication. If such an applicant is otherwise eligible but appears to be applying outside of Guinea to avoid the visa suspension, officers outside Guinea must transfer the case to Embassy Conakry.
How to Refuse Out of District Cases in NIV
8. (SBU) Consular officers who believe applicants are seeking to avoid the visa suspension in Guinea should use the “case transfer” function in NIV 4.10 in “Open” status and transfer the case to Embassy Conakry. Although the transfer function permits you to deny cases under INA 221(g) prior to transfer, do not select that option; transfer the case in “Open” status.
Exceptions to Visa Restrictions
9. (SBU) Under the Secretary's order, some applicants in Guinea who are covered individuals may still be issued visas for travel deemed by the Department to be for a humanitarian or other emergency purpose, or travel otherwise deemed in the interests of the United States. Consular officers should refuse each case under INA 243(d) then submit an advisory opinion to [email removed] for each case that the adjudicating consular officer believes may fall within one of the exceptions.
Termination of Restrictions:
10. (U) When the Secretary of Homeland Security has informed the Secretary of State that the Government of Guinea has accepted its nationals subject to removal orders, the restrictions will be lifted. The Department will inform all posts when this happens and will provide further instructions on bringing the 243(d) cases to conclusion.
Continued Engagement with Uncooperative or At Risk of Non-Compliance Countries
11. (U) The Department recently urged posts (Ref B) in uncooperative and at risk of non-compliance countries to raise the issue of removals with their host governments. If you are in such a post, the suspension of visa issuance in another country may be a useful point to raise in future discussions encouraging your host country to cooperate on removals. While the United States is willing to work with each country to address its concerns, visa discontinuance remains a possibility if a country abjectly fails to cooperate in removals and makes no progress in addressing the issue.
12. (SBU) Any questions on the mechanics of case transfers should be addressed to VO/I. Any questions about the FAM guidance or procedural application of the Secretary's order should be directed to VO/L/A.
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