9 FAM 403.3
(U) Pre-interview Processing
(Office of Origin: CA/VO/L/R)
9 FAm 403.3-1 (U) Statutory and Regulatory Authorities
9 FAM 403.3-1(A) (U) Immigration and Nationality Act
(U) INA 221(b) (8 U.S.C. 1201(b)); INA 222(e) (8 U.S.C. 1202(e)).
9 FAM 403.3-1(B) (U) Code of Federal Regulations
(U) 22 CFR 41.103; 22 CFR 41.105.
9 FAM 403.3-2 (U) Scheduling Appointments
a. (U) Per 7 FAH-1 H-263.5, CA encourages all posts to use an NIV appointment system. An effective appointment system must be flexible and must accommodate the largest number of applicants consistent with effective interviewing and security processing. An appointment system must also provide for expedited handling for legitimate business travelers and students, possibly by setting aside dedicated blocks of time for those categories.
b. (U) See the appointment systems page on CAWeb for a detailed discussion of how to devise an appointment system and manage it to improve efficiency and to provide better service to applicants. CA’s standard is that a nonimmigrant visa applicant should be able to obtain an appointment within 21 days.
9 FAM 403.3-3 (U) Procedures for Submitting Applications to Consular Sections
a. (U) Overview: Visa application materials, passports, photos, evidence of payment of machine readable visa (MRV) fee, and appropriate supporting documents may be submitted to the consular section for processing in a number of ways as described below. Regardless of the intake procedure, you must bear in mind the following:
(1) (U) Intake procedures constitute an avenue for the transfer of physical documents and electronic data to the consular section for processing. They are essentially mechanical and do not reflect on the applicant’s qualifications for a visa. In other words, any value added by a third party service provider must take the form of clerical or communication support (for example, in typing forms or hand-delivering documents to the visa section). You must avoid the appearance or implication of third party evaluation of visa applications.
(2) (U) You must carefully evaluate local operating needs and conditions to structure intake procedures that provide adequate oversight and internal controls. This is particularly important when involving control of issued visas.
(3) (U) Screening of electronic visa applications by LE staff should not encroach on adjudication. Screening by LE staff should only be for completeness of application and should not extend to interviewing or making notes within the application or in the case notes beyond the scope of the screener’s function. For more information see 7 FAH-1 H-648.1-4.
(4) (U) Regardless of the method of intake used, you must ensure that you meet all regular processing requirements, including personal appearance instructions outlined in 9 FAM 403.5.
(5) (U) Form DS-160 provides for the advanced, unattended submission of the application form even for applicants who must be interviewed. This can allow you to more effectively complete initial processing requirements prior to interview. You must carefully consider workload and accountability implications of such a process, however.
b. (U) Walk-in Applicants: Applicants will hand-carry the form DS-160 confirmation page when appearing at the consular section for an appointment and, in some cases, without an appointment. Posts should normally assign application screening responsibilities to a Locally Employed (LE) staff member, who will be responsible for reviewing applications for completeness. Consular managers must establish procedures to ensure that completed applications are accepted and that LE staff personnel do not inappropriately defer or refuse processing.
c. (U) On-Line Applications and Bar-Coding: The DS-160 confirmation page has a barcode, which facilitates data entry. You may use this barcode to complement various intake procedures.
d. (U) Personal Appearance Waived: Applicants for whom you may waive a personal appearance as discussed in 9 FAM 403.5-4(A) may submit application materials through a bank or courier service that collects and delivers application materials to the consular section.
e. (U) Management Controls: With any of the above procedures, consular managers must ensure that:
(1) (U) Criteria for inclusion are clearly stated in writing and are in full compliance with 9 FAM 403.5-4(A);
(2) (U) Post has developed explicit, written standard operating procedures for accounting for and controlling documents; and
(3) (U) Internal controls procedures exist to prevent manipulation of procedures by guards, courier service personnel, or other service providers.
f. (U) Working With Travel Agencies and Businesses:
(1) (U) Many applicants will choose to use a travel agent or bank courier service to facilitate the visa application process. This will take various forms, from providing information to assistance in completing Form DS-160. Consular managers must establish clear procedures in working with these companies to ensure that all processing requirements are met in the most efficient manner possible and that all appearance of impropriety is avoided. Outside agents provide post with an avenue for providing information to the public and for physically delivering application materials and passports to the visa section. They have no role in the visa review or adjudication process;
(2) (U) Consular sections may not enter into exclusive arrangements with travel agents for any purpose and may not allow travel agency advertising in the consular section or imply endorsement of a particular travel agency or group of agencies. Lists of preferred agencies are not appropriate;
(3) (U) Consular managers will generally find it useful to establish channels of communication to the business and travel industries, both to advise agents and airlines of changes in procedure and to provide periodic training as appropriate.
g. (U) Referrals: Post must follow procedures outlined in 9 FAM 601.8 for cases submitted through the visa referral system.
9 FAM 403.3-4 (U) BIOMETRIC VISA PROGRAM
(U) Section 303 of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-173) has required, since October 26, 2004, that all visas issued by the Department must be machine-readable, tamper-resistant, and use biometric identifiers. See 9 FAM 303.5 and 303.7 for information on the Biometric Visa Program.
9 FAM 403.3-4(A) (U) Photograph Requirements
a. (U) Submission of Photo: Applicants are permitted to submit photographs with their applications either electronically by uploading them into the online application form, or by submitting a hard-copy photograph.
b. (U) See 9 FAM 303.6-2(A)(1) for guidance on photo standards.
9 FAM 403.3-4(B) (U) Collecting Fingerprints
9 FAM 403.3-5 (U) Biometric Signature and Affirmation of Ds-160 NIV Application
a. (U) Posts must scan the applicants' fingerprints immediately preceding the interview and not at the conclusion of the interview. You must clearly post the statement below at either:
(1) (U) The point at which you verify an applicant’s fingerprints; or
(2) (U) The point at which you collect the ten-digit fingerprint scan.
(U) Text follows:
“By submitting my fingerprint, I am certifying under penalty of perjury that I have read and understood the questions in my visa application and that all statements that appear in my visa application have been made by me and are true and complete to the best of my knowledge and belief. Furthermore, I certify under penalty of perjury that I will tell the truth during my interview and that all statements made by me during my interview will be complete to the best of my ability.”
b. (U) Posts must place the statement in the window above the fingerprint scanner or on the counter next to the scanner - whatever works best for post, as long as it is clearly visible to the applicant. Posts that have television monitors in their waiting areas may also wish to place the statement there, but must still display it in front of or above the fingerprint scanner as well. At posts where officers interview in a language other than English, posts should display this text in English and a translation in the appropriate local language(s).
c. (U) Officers must make sure that each applicant is aware of what he or she is agreeing to by submitting his/her fingerprint for verification (or fingerprints in the case of posts with cleared American collection workflows). You are not required to repeat the posted text word for word.