Monday, June 7, 2010
Work in Progress
Of course, no one needs a gentle reminder that FAMs are always works in progress. The web-based editions show every section or paragraph's latest revision date. There are updates that are well-publicized, like the welcome major 2009 revision of 9 FAM Appendix K which was announced by worldwide cable. But there are also small revisions underway all the time, most of which don't make the nightly news.
For a while there were monthly summaries; a list of revisions large and small. This list is still a useful reminder that even the most basic entries might be subject to tweak without fore- (or post-) warning. With on-line FAMs so easily accessible and searchable - and State's official on-line editions kept up to date so there is no need to trust a law firm's or anybody else's older postings - there is no reason to depend on memory, and going back even to old favorites can sometimes yield new surprises: for example, the requirement that consular officers confirm funding for student visa applicants. Especially if one has been out of the consular business for a while, even a fairly short while like, for instance, a year in Iraq, an assignment in another cone, sick leave, leave without pay, a teaching gig, a year-long language or other class, or a hundred other possible temporary distractions, looking it up is a very good idea.
Also an excellent idea for any consular officer who's been away for any of the reasons above or for reasons even briefer - such as you went out to buy coffee and had to wait in line - is enrollment in the short consular courses, such as automation and name-checking. Things seem to change daily, all for the better these days. You will be amazed and delighted and will have lots of fun.