Department of State New Consular Vetting Procedures

Image source:  U.S. Department of State

UPDATED July 25, 2017
According to a Reuters exclusive, the U.S. State Department (DOS) will now require all nations to provide extensive data to help it vet visa applicants and determine whether a traveler poses a terrorist threat.

The DOS cable specified a report outlining information needed from every country in order to sufficiently vet the nationals of that country in order to obtain a visa, admission at a port of entry, or other immigration benefit. The report establishes standards related to (1) identity management and (2) information sharing on security and public safety threats. It also includes a classified list of countries preliminarily assessed as not meeting the standards set out in the report and a list of those at risk of not meeting these standards. 

The cable initiates a 50-day Engagement Period wherein consular posts must inform host governments of the new information sharing standards and request that host governments provide the requested information or develop a plan to do so. The DOS will work with host countries to assess whether the country currently meets these standards and, if it does not, help design a plan to allow it to do so. Non-compliance could result in sanctions.

New Standards
(1) Identity Management

  • Countries should issue (or have plans to issue) electronic passports that conform to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) specifications and include facial biometrics.
  • Countries should regularly report lost/stolen passports to INTERPOL.
  • Countries should make available “any other identity information” at the request of the U.S., including additional biographic and biometric data and relevant immigration status.

(2) Security and Public Safety Threats

  • Countries should share information on individuals it knows or has reason to believe are terrorists, through appropriate bilateral or multilateral channels.
  • Countries should make available criminal history information on its nationals, permanent, and temporary residents who are seeking U.S. visas or benefits.
  • Countries should provide exemplar passport and national ID documents it issues to the ICE Forensic Documents Lab.
  • Countries should not impede the transfer of information about passengers and crew traveling to the U.S.
  • Countries should not designate individuals for watchlisting (national security or criminal) based solely on political or religious beliefs.

Are you planning to travel to the U.S. and are concerned about how this development affects you? If so, please contact us. We are here to help. Follow us on InstagramTwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn for up-to-date immigration news.

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