Stumbled across this article that just came out. It was of Haiti’s US Embassy review. It’s online and can be found on stateoig.gov. It’s a lot to read but it’s absolutely worth it especially to those who were denied and are still waiting on response from the embassy.
Immigrant Visa Workload Not Managed Effectively
OIG found that the Immigrant Visa (IV) Unit accepted more cases than it had the capacity to process in an efficient and effective manner. This resulted in a daily workload that was heavy and unevenly distributed among 4 consular officers and 23 LE staff. In particular, until November 2018, the unit had requested from the National Visa Center (NVC) about 1,400 new IV cases per month, but the requests did not factor in the unit’s high volume of locally scheduled cases. Locally scheduled cases are necessary to accommodate IV applicants who are refused at their first appointment due to incomplete documentation. Applicants are then scheduled locally to return when they have the additional documentation. OIG noted that, as a result of the combined volume of cases, relatively inexperienced adjudicating officers were working long hours to adjudicate the daily number of applicants regularly scheduled by NVC, as well as the locally scheduled applicants. Additionally, some officers told OIG that their initial
training program was shortened because of the heavy workload, which affected their productivity and contributed to low morale in the IV Unit.
OIG found that the embassy had started taking steps to address these issues. Specifically, the newly arrived Consul General began matching resources to capacity. In addition, to lower the weekly refusal rate, the embassy engaged the NVC to propose measures to enhance the preparedness level of IV applicants.
In accordance with 3 FAM 1214b(2), 7 FAH-1 H-262.3-4, Workload Distribution, and 7 FAH-1 H- 242c(6), Workload Analysis, consular managers are expected to plan strategically and use consular management tools to analyze processes and workload to effectively manage resources. Guidance in the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ leadership tenets, management framework,19 and 7 FAH-1 H-241 and 7 FAH–1 H-261 also outline expectations for consular managers to manage “existing resources to deal effectively with consular workloads,” “seek ways to improve operational effectiveness,” and “effectively distribute resources in an equitable manner to ensure mission accomplishment.” Failure to plan strategically to manage existing resources and deal effectively with consular workloads creates backlogs, lowers productivity and morale, truncates training, and leads to overtime costs.
Recommendation 7: Embassy Port-au-Prince should use the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ management framework to manage the immigrant visa workload more effectively. (Action: Embassy Port-au-Prince)
Reviews of Immigrant Visa Refusals Did Not Meet Department Standards
The embassy did not review all of the refused immigrant visa cases required by Department standards. For example, between April 1 and June 30, 2018, managers did not review 380 of 447 (85 percent) of the refusals that should have been reviewed. Guidance in 9 FAM 504.11- 3(A)(2), however, states that consular managers must review all immigrant visa refusals that cannot be overcome by presentation of additional evidence. Notwithstanding this guidance, consular managers did not prioritize these reviews. Failure to conduct reviews of refusal cases increases the risk of adjudication errors and denying the immigration benefit to an eligible applicant.
Recommendation 8: Embassy Port-au-Prince should review immigrant visa refusals in accordance with Department guidelines. (Action: Embassy Port-au-Prince)
Consular Section Intake Procedures, Use of Space Were Inefficient
OIG found that the embassy did not make the most efficient use of intake procedures and available space to process Consular Section customers and accommodate them as efficiently,
19 The Bureau of Consular Affairs created the Consular Leadership Tenets to provide a value-based approach to leadership. The bureau’s 1CA Management Framework is designed to complement the leadership tenets and provide consular teams with tools to analyze and address common consular management and leadership issues.
safely, and pleasantly as possible. For example, applicants typically were accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis, rather than according to their appointment time. Applicants arriving at the consular compound access control area were grouped by their requested consular services, admitted to the embassy compound, and, after reaching the consular waiting room, again were sorted and directed to initial processing. Waiting times varied depending on the requested service, with some applicants spending up to an hour standing in line before seeing an adjudicator. Furthermore, a covered seating area between the access control area and the waiting room entrance that would allow some applicants to sit while they waited remained largely unused. Guidance in 7 FAH-1 H-281a states that an effective consular section needs to provide secure, adequate, efficient, comfortable, and attractive accommodation for both visitors and staff. In addition, the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ management framework, which consular managers did not consult for guidance on this issue, provides tools to conduct workflow analysis in order to more efficiently process applicants. Without more attention to procedures and accommodations, applicants often wait longer than necessary in uncomfortable conditions, and consular productivity is decreased due to inefficient processes.
Recommendation 9: Embassy Port-au-Prince should use the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ management framework to comply with Department guidance for processing and accommodating consular customers. (Action: Embassy Port-au-Prince)