195313 3/5/2009 6:23:00 AM 09NEWDELHI414 Embassy New Delhi UNCLASSIFIED 08CHENNAI382 | 08KOLKATA291 VZCZCXRO0154PP RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHNEHDE RUEHNE #0414/01 0640623ZNR UUUUU ZZHP 050623Z MAR 09FM AMEMBASSY NEW DELHITO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5632INFO RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 4406RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 3447RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 3621RUEHNEH/AMCONSUL HYDERABAD 0328 UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NEW DELHI 000414 SIPDIS CA/FPP FOR JILL NYSTROM DS/CR/OCI FOR GALEN NACE DS/CR/CFI FOR DAVE BRACKINS DS/CR/VPAU FOR TIM LONGANACRE AND YVETTE COLMAN
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: KFRD, CVIS, CMGT, ASEC, ECON, EFIN, IN
SUBJECT: IACC REMOVED FROM MISSION INDIA BUSINESS EXECUTIVE PROGRAM
REF: A) 08 CHENNAI 382, B) 08 KOLKATA 291
1. Summary. After uncovering a series of fraudulent visa cases and unqualified applicants directly supported by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC), Mission India has removed the IACC from its visa facilitation Business Executive Program (BEP). In FY-2007 and FY-2008, the refusal rate for IACC BEP applicants was over eleven percent, and five applicants overstayed their visas. End Summary.
2. On October 31, 2008, the purported Vice President of Maxwell Industries admitted during a fraud interview at Consulate General Chennai that he had purchased a complete package of fraudulent supporting documents from a vendor in Hyderabad. According to the applicant, Maxwell Industries did not exist. Included in that package was a genuine letter of support from the regional director of IACC in New Delhi confirming that the applicant and his fictitious company were official members of IACC's delegation to attend the Pack Expo in Chicago, IL.
3. Chennai's Fraud Prevention Unit (FPU) investigated the applicant's claims and identified several other companies linked to the same business address. Entry/exit checks for three other Maxwell Industries representatives, who attended the 2007 Pack Expo on an FCS-organized foreign buyer delegation and whose members were recruited and vetted by the IACC in South India, confirmed that none of the representatives returned to India. A/RSO-I Chennai opened an official investigation, and the Fraud Prevention Manager alerted adjudicating officers to closely scrutinize cases with IACC sponsor letters.
4. Three days later, Chennai intercepted four cooks working for the South Indian restaurant chain Saravana Bhavan with IACC letters touting the quartet as "senior level executives" to attend the Pack Expo. Another ADIS check confirmed that three previous IACC-sponsored, Pack Expo-attending Saravana Bhavan managers stayed nearly twelve months in the U.S. on tourist visas before converting to L-1A status. The full report of that case, the arrest of the Saravana Bhavan CEO for human trafficking, and the resulting media onslaught are reported ref A.
Abuse of the BEP Program
5. Mission India's Business Executive Program (BEP) is designed to facilitate business travel in support of U.S. commerce abroad. The BEP enables large firms with a high volume of travel to the United States to access a priority visa appointment calendar and allows for expedited processing of applicants on the day of the appointment. Many BEP Members are U.S. Fortune 500 companies. IACC joined the BEP program in 2005.
6. Mission India recently conducted a validation study of BEP B1/B2 applicants for FY-2007 (ref B) and found a Mission-wide overstay rate of less than one quarter of one percent. BEP members are vetted thoroughly throughout the Mission before they can join the program, and overstay and refusal rates for BEP members are expected to be negligible. Using the case tags linked to IACC BEP appointment accounts, Post confirmed, with assistance from CCD AdHoc, that the IACC refusal rate in New Delhi and Chennai during the last two fiscal years was over eleven percent.
7. A close analysis of those refusals reflected a quality of applicant that fell far short of what was expected for BEP members. In New Delhi, over half of the refusals were for young single men with no previous travel working at jewelry, rug or handicraft companies to attend trade shows. Several had multiple refusals. In Chennai, Post recently returned to DHS for revocation several H-1B petitions of IACC-member companies for petitioner fraud. Divihn Integration, which is partially owned by Lancesoft, provided an applicant with a fraudulent client letter. IACC-member Tekstrom also provided a fraudulent client letter. Post has returned nearly 40 Tekstrom petitions for revocation in the last three years. An applicant from Altech Star submitted completely fraudulent work experience from Cognizant.
8. IACC showed no accountability for its applicants, and no incentive to do so. In its advertising literature, IACC recruited new members by actively promoting membership in the BEP to "enhance the credibility of the visa applicants" and stated that the "BEP
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facility is available to all IACC member companies." Essentially, all IACC members automatically obtained BEP status without undergoing the extensive vetting of BEP members. Several IACC applicants, including the CEO for Saravana Bhavan, confirmed that IACC charged them to obtain an IACC BEP appointment.
Validation Study Results
9. Given the low confidence in IACC applicants following this analysis, Mission India conducted a 100 percent validation study of IACC BEP applicants for FY-2007 and FY-2008 using CCD AdHoc reports and US-VISIT ADIS checks. Of the 1,084 applicants in the study, only five appear to have overstayed their visas. One hundred and fifteen individuals are in the United States in legal status, and 964 used their visa appropriately and returned to India. The five overstays have no departure records, and Post has been unable to contact the applicants via phone calls to their purported places of employment and residence. Post will report those individuals septel.
10. Based on the low credibility of IACC applicants and increasing concerns of lack of vetting by the IACC, Mission India removed IACC from the BEP program effective January 1, 2009. Despite this action, Mission India acknowledges the otherwise positive work that the IACC does on behalf of U.S.-India commercial relations and will continue to work with IACC on non-visa issues. Employees of IACC member companies can still apply for U.S. visas but must do so through the regular visa appointment system.