Quote of the day/week/however long

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."
~William James

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Job Isn't Finished Until the Paperwork is ... Ignored

In July, Madam expressed very clearly her experienced opinion of the documents that applicants like to bring to their NIV interviews:

What is it about paper, that consular officers love it so much?  There is no document anywhere in the world that can't be produced on demand, either as a genuine document fraudulently issued, or as a work of art created by Madam's dear friend Ali on the Corner, all of whose children have graduated debt-free from good US universities thanks to their father's work.

If it's not a mandatory I-20, DS-2019, I-797 or the like, it is not just useless; it is a dangerous distraction.  Because let's be clear:  there is nothing about a piece of paper, however fancy, that will tell an officer anything about a visa applicant's intentions.  Documents are crutches; flipping through them to look for a reason to issue or refuse is a futile task.  A bank book, a job letter, a lease, a car title:  none of it means anything.  If the customer intends to stay in the US, he will willingly leave all those things behind - even if they really exist and he really owns them -  without a glance.  And besides, an officer's job is to interview applicants, not shuffle papers.

How do you resist the pull of papers?  Don't ask for them.  When offered, don't take them.  If refused applicants, in their later complaints, eventually get around to the worldwide whine "...and the officer didn't even look at my documents!" the proper response is, "the officer interviewed you."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Coming to a Visa Line Near You?

"The most notorious corrupt official in Indonesia not only left his Indonesian jail cell to view a tennis tournament in Bali, he also traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Macau.

...and to the International Space Station?

"Gayus Tambunan, who is a former mid-level tax officer, told officials that he was on vacation when he exited his jail cell and traveled abroad with his wife in September last year.

"After his arrest in Bali, Tambunan admitted that he paid in excess of $40,000 in order to be let out of jail on 68 occasions."

Madam notes, by the way, that Pak Tambunan's annual salary was about $1400.

She is amused, but also hopeful that a routine name check will keep him from vacationing in Tulsa next summer.

And by the way, of course 'authorities' are blaming the wife, not the 10,000 cops who could have kept his silly, arrogant ass in jail.  And the government officer who issued the passport on which he traveled has been promoted.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

We Need to Talk

Here, chosen purely at random, is a sporting attempt to explain the complexity of crossing into the US with an adopted child.  Not only is it written in English by way of Babelfish,

but a lot of it is simply wrong.

And here is an attempt to make sense out of US passports for children.

If a cheery, ambitious, articulate entry-level officer were assigned to skim local or suspect web sites and correct, respond to, or comment on such attempts to clarify people's situations, he or she would not only provide a valuable public service, but would also give a supervisor a very nice item or two to include in the next EER.

But of course, we don't do our jobs for rewards, do we.  We do them because they are our jobs and we love them.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Congratulations, Sort Of

These days, most US consular sections use appointment systems of one kind or another not only for IVs and NIVs but also for various ACS applicants:  notarials, CROBAs, and the like.

Well, good.  Except...

Does this mean that when an applicant arrives at your mission ten minutes before the appointed time, s/he is admitted immediately?  Is s/he called to or welcomed at the intake window at the exact appointment time?

If so, good on you.  If not, you do not have an appointment system; you only have crowd control.

 Madam has heard far more often than she likes the argument that either

1.  This is the best the consular section can do, and/or

2.  The people here don't expect any better.

To which, after a suitable expletive, she must respond, "No, it's not" and "So what?"

If you made an appointment for any purpose anywhere in the US and that appointment worked the way that your section's does, would you feel you had cause to complain?

If so, fix it.  Remember the part about setting a good example, and the relentless need to present the best possible face of the US in all interactions overseas?  Please.  You have an appointment system; now make it work like one.