NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

State Department Visa Officers Found to be Poorly Trained

December 23, 2002

The State Department's inspector general has determined the system for issuing immigrant visas remains lax, poorly financed, and staffed by consular officials who are too poorly trained to screen out determined terrorists.

  • The IG's office noted visa review procedures vary from embassy to embassy and a program to identify terrorism suspects needs more money.
  • The report says Sept. 11 attacks should have brought "immediate and dramatic changes" in how visas are handled, but this "has not happened."
  • The findings were based on visits to 27 embassies or consulates -- many of them in the Middle East.
  • In a report issued last month, the General Accounting Office also found security breakdowns in visa programs.

Lastly, the IG's report found the databases used in many visa offices were inadequate -- lacking, for instance, information from the State Department's fraud investigations.

Source: James Dao, "Consuls Lax in Screening for Visas, Report Says," New York Times, December 22, 2002.


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