216420: Mumbai P3 groups use visas for unintended purposes
FPU recently conducted a P3 validation study because of several allegations of human trafficking.
216420 7/14/2009 5:23:00 AM 09MUMBAI293 Consulate Mumbai UNCLASSIFIED 09NEWDELHI1299 VZCZCXRO6463RR RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHNEHDE RUEHBI #0293/01 1950523ZNR UUUUU ZZHR 140523Z JUL 09FM AMCONSUL MUMBAITO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7325INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 8562RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 2074RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 1862RUEHNEH/AMCONSUL HYDERABAD 0038RUEHPNH/NVC PORTSMOUTH NHRUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 2547 UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MUMBAI 000293 SIPDIS CA/FPP FOR JILL NYSTROM, DHS FOR CIS/FDNS
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: CVIS, CPAS, CMGT, ASEC, IN, KFRD
SUBJECT: MUMBAI P3 GROUPS USE VISAS FOR UNINTENDED PURPOSES
REF: NEW DELHI 01299
1. (U) SUMMARY: In June 2009, Mumbai conducted a P3 visa validity study for CY2008. Although Mumbai had a very low overstay rate of 0.2%, recent incidents reveal that P3 visas were sometimes used for unintended purposes in the United States. As a result, Mumbai adjudicates P3 visas more carefully. In January 2009, Georgia police arrested four Mumbai P3 group members on four counts of human trafficking. In addition, the growing volume of information obtained through snitch letters and informants visiting the Consulate has increased our scrutiny of this visa category. END SUMMARY.
2. (U) Mumbai is the entertainment capital of India and sends large numbers of performers to the United States under the P3 visa category. FPU recently conducted a P3 validation study because of several allegations of human trafficking. Typically posts look for fraud among individuals in large P3 groups. However, Mumbai has found entire groups involved in potentially criminal activities in the United States.
3. (U) In CY2008, 1,641 people applied for P3 visas and 1,329 were approved for a refusal rate of 19%. Of the 1,329 P3s approved, ADIS records indicated that only 1,199 traveled to the United States. The two most likely reasons for this discrepancy are possible data errors on their I-94s or that some with visas never actually travelled. Among those who entered the United States, ADIS records showed that 51 did not return. Of the 51 people unaccounted for, 22 were confirmed returned by a check of case notes entered when they returned to the Consulate for physical cancellation of their visas. Six legally adjusted status, 19 held B1/B2 visas, and 1 died of natural causes while in the United States. In total, there are three unresolved cases that accounts for an overstay rate of 0.2% of the travelers found in ADIS. (Note: This evidence suggests that those approved by post appear to reliably return to India. Therefore, Post believes tracking travel patterns in ADIS is unlikely to be a reliable red flag for travelers of concern among this population.)
THE GOOD, THE BAD
4. (U) The characteristics of P3 groups in Mumbai vary widely. A good group typically has less than 10 highly experienced members or has more than 15 people who are touring with a celebrity. The fraudulent P3 groups that Mumbai sees have some common characteristics. They usually have from 10-30 members, about five musicians, two or three singers, and many dancers. They generally come from all over India, and even Nepal, and claim to have performed together for one to three years, although their travel abroad is rarely the same. Many have frequent travel to the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Singapore, and Thailand. If group members have previous travel to the Unites States, they often tend to float among the same groups on the P3 "caution list" Consulate Mumbai developed recently. They perform a mix of Bollywood and Gujarati styles of dances, though the native region of the applicant is often not the same as the cultural dance they claim to know. Applicants generally have no formal training or are self-taught.
5. (U) The group leader may have a detailed itinerary, but generally group members can only name two or three places they will visit out of as many as 25 purported destinations. Members often say they do not know the details of the itinerary; the group leader is the only one who knows. The groups say they are going to perform at low-key venues and personal events such as weddings, birthdays, and children's parties. When asked about what they did on previous visits to the United States, most members can only report one location they visited and do not remember the venues where they performed, even though they may have been in the United States for four to eight months.
AND THE UGLY
6. (SBU) In January 2009, four members of Jass Entertainment, including the petitioner, were arrested in the United States on four counts of human trafficking. ICE reported that police were called to the petitioner's house in Norcross Georgia where the P3 group was staying after an altercation occurred with a man who came to visit one of the female dancers at night. ICE reported the group was forced to work 14-hour days at the nearby Mefil Bar and Grill. Police discovered the women were held against their will in the house and that the women's passports, money, and airline tickets were kept by some of the men. Two members of the group who were originally charged on the same counts of human trafficking, were later released due to lack of evidence. They returned to the Consulate in April for their verification appointment. ConOffs interviewed the group leader MUMBAI 00000293 002 OF 002 and another man who claimed to be a singer. Both group members said they held the only keys that locked the front and back doors to the house. They said customers from the bar would visit the house at night. FPU took statements from both group members and entered P6C1s on their cases. Mumbai did not request revocation of the petition because it had already expired. Lookouts are attached to all group members' profiles. The case against the petitioner and another group member continues in the United States.
7. (SBU) In 2009, four women visited the Consulate to make human trafficking and human smuggling allegations with the ARSO-I. Mumbai also received several snitch letters describing activities similar to the Georgia case. In April, two women from a different P3 group approached the Consulate to complain they were forced into prostitution instead of performing cultural events. A further investigation by the ARSO-I revealed that although they may not have been forced into prostitution, they were not paid for services that included dancing in Texas bars. Both women gave the ARSO-I detailed information, including how they were monitored and treated during their trip. In June a third woman approached the Consulate with an information package on the P3 group Mars Management. She provided posters showing the group dancing at a bar in the United States and gave FPU a statement detailing how the girls were forced into prostitution. A fourth woman, also with Mars Management, came to the Consulate and gave local staff the crib sheet she was told to study in preparation for her visa interview, complete with all questions and answers. The ARSO-I interviewed the woman but was unable to obtain a statement about her activities. (Note: Most women seem willing to provide information on activities that occur in the United States, but are unwilling to implicate themselves. Fear of retribution and cultural views on these activities appear to hamper witness statements and further investigation.)
8. (U) In another case, a musician of a P3 group was fired after he refused to mow lawns, which he rightly claimed was not his purpose for visiting the United States. He filed a complaint with the Consulate after he returned to India because the petitioner had not paid him.
CASE MANAGEMENT OF P3 GROUPS
9. (SBU) Mumbai has implemented several control measures that have ensured a low overstay rate. All groups are required to return to the Consulate after their trip to have their visas physically cancelled. This measure reminds groups that Consulate Mumbai monitors their return to India and is more secure than relying solely on ADIS checks. Recently, Mumbai added a few new procedures to strengthen our group processing workflow, including establishing a P3 "caution list" that alerts all officers to groups with a past record of visa abuse, such as Jass Entertainment and Mars Management. Mumbai also collects a copy of each group's itinerary, contracts between the petitioner and local promoter, and contracts between the local promoter and group members. The ARSO-I said these documents can help ICE investigate incidents of human trafficking and smuggling if they arise.
10. (U) COMMENT: Although the validation study shows a very low overstay rate, P3 visas are frequently not used for their intended lawful purpose. Those who abuse this visa category often remain under the radar as long as they do not overstay their visas. Typical high fraud groups have demonstrated they are searching for new clues into the approval process. We expect to see these groups test the standards at other posts in India. We have recently observed changes in the composition of P3 groups, such as fewer dancers and more singers. A key challenge in tracking high fraud groups is that group names and petitioners can change easily for the same set of people whenever their group has an increase in refusals under a previous name or petitioner. Tracking local promoter names and historical travel by some members with questionable groups provides insight into the profile of a group during the interview. The P3 visa category appears to be easier to exploit than other visa categories for human trafficking and smuggling. END COMMENT.