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Testimony: 

Before the Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization and 
Procurement, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House of 
Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
GAO: 

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 2:00 p.m. EDT: 
Wednesday, June 25, 2008: 

Border Security: 

State Department Expects to Meet Projected Surge in Demand for Visas 
and Passports in Mexico: 

Statement of Jess T. Ford, Director:
International Affairs and Trade: 

GAO-08-931T: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-08-931T, a testimony before the Subcommittee on 
Government Management, Organization, and Procurement, Committee on 
Oversight and Government Reform, House of Representatives. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

The U.S. Mission in Mexico is the Department of State’s largest 
consular operation. In fiscal year 2007, it processed 1.5 million of 
the 8 million nonimmigrant visas (NIV) State handled worldwide. The 
U.S. Mission in Mexico also provided services, including passport 
processing and emergency assistance, to 20,000 American citizens in 
fiscal year 2007. This already significant consular workload is 
expected to increase dramatically in the coming years as millions of 
NIV Border Crossing Cards issued in Mexico between fiscal years 1998 
and 2002 expire and need to be renewed. In addition, the implementation 
of new travel requirements under the Western Hemisphere Travel 
Initiative (WHTI) will, for the first time, require U.S. citizens to 
carry passports, or other approved documentation, when traveling 
between the United States and Mexico. 

This testimony addresses (1) State’s estimates of the workload for 
consulates in Mexico through 2012 resulting from, in particular, new 
travel requirements and the reissue of Border Crossing Cards; and (2) 
the actions State has taken to ensure consulates in Mexico keep pace 
with projected workload increases through 2012. This testimony is based 
on work currently in process that involves analyzing State’s workload 
forecasts and forecast methodology, interviewing State officials, and 
visiting five posts in Mexico. GAO discussed this testimony with State 
officials, who agreed with GAO’s findings. 

What GAO Found: 

According to State forecasts, as of April 2008, the U.S. Mission in 
Mexico’s (Mission Mexico) NIV demand will peak at slightly over 3 
million applications in fiscal year 2011, about twice the number from 
fiscal year 2007. State acknowledges there are uncertainties regarding 
the number of Border Crossing Card holders who will renew their cards 
and the number of first time NIV applicants, which may affect the 
accuracy of its forecasts. State will be revising the forecasts on a 
periodic basis as new data become available. In addition to its 
increase in NIV workload, Mission Mexico will also be facing increases 
in its passport workload due to the implementation of WHTI. The exact 
magnitude of the increase in passport workload is more difficult to 
forecast than for NIVs, because there is not the same historical 
precedent. There is also a great deal of uncertainty as to how many 
U.S. citizens actually live in Mexico or the number of these citizens 
likely to apply for a passport. 

In anticipation of this surge in demand for NIVs and U.S. passports, 
State is taking steps to ensure consulates in Mexico keep pace, 
including adding consular interview windows to several high-demand 
posts and planning to hire about 100 temporary adjudicating officers. 
Consular officials GAO met with at several posts in Mexico generally 
agreed that these efforts to expand resources should be adequate for 
Mission Mexico to keep pace with expected workload increases, and GAO’s 
analysis indicates the mission will generally have enough interviewing 
windows during the surge. Several posts will rely on the addition of 
temporary adjudicators to keep pace with increased NIV demand and would 
face backlogs if these slots cannot be filled or if the temporary staff 
are not as productive as expected. However, State is confident that it 
has an adequate pool of potential applicants. Mission Mexico may also 
gain additional capacity from a pilot program, currently under way at 
two posts, that outsources a portion of the NIV application process to 
off-site facilities; however, the pilot was implemented too recently to 
assess its potential impact on productivity, fraud, or security. 

Figure: Mission Mexico NIV Demand Forecast: 

[See PDF for image] 

This figure is a line graph depicting the following data: 

Fiscal year: 2007; 
Number of applications: 1,513,320. 

Fiscal year: 2008; 
Number of applications: 1,825,600. 

Fiscal year: 2009; 
Number of applications: 2,287,240. 

Fiscal year: 2010; 
Number of applications: 2,762,220. 

Fiscal year: 2011; 
Number of applications: 3,079,130. 

Fiscal year: 2012; 
Number of applications: 2,470,590. 

Source: GAO analysis of State data. 

[End of figure] 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-08-931T]. For more 
information, contact Jess T. Ford at (202) 512-4268 or fordj@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

June 25, 2008: 

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: 

I am pleased to be here to discuss GAO's work on the Department of 
State's (State) efforts to prepare for the upcoming surge in its 
consular workload in Mexico. 

Legitimate travel between Mexico and the United States contributes to 
bilateral trade of over $1 billion per day, according to State. The 
U.S. Mission in Mexico (Mission Mexico) is State's largest consular 
operation in the world; in fiscal year 2007, it processed 1.5 million 
of the 8 million nonimmigrant visas (NIV) State handled worldwide. 
Moreover, its post in Ciudad Juarez was the largest issuer of U.S. 
immigrant visas in the world. The U.S. Mission in Mexico also provided 
services, including passport processing and emergency assistance, to 
around 20,000 American citizens in fiscal year 2007. This already 
significant consular workload is expected to increase dramatically in 
the coming years as millions of NIV Border Crossing Cards issued in 
Mexico between fiscal years 1998 and 2002 expire and need to be 
renewed. In addition, the implementation of new travel requirements 
under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) will, for the 
first time, require U.S. citizens to carry passports, or other approved 
documentation, when traveling between the United States and Mexico. 
State must expand its consular capacity in Mexico to keep pace with 
this expected surge in demand for millions of visas and thousands of 
U.S. passports over the next several years. If State does not take the 
steps necessary to adequately meet this growth in workload, travel 
between the two countries could be significantly affected, resulting in 
inconveniences and hardships for individual travelers and negative 
consequences for the economies of both countries. 

Today, I will discuss (1) State's estimates of the workload for 
consulates in Mexico through 2012 resulting from, in particular, new 
travel requirements and the reissue of Border Crossing Cards; and (2) 
the actions State has taken to ensure that consulates in Mexico keep 
pace with projected workload increases through 2012. 

My statement today is based upon GAO's ongoing work, scheduled to be 
completed at the end of July 2008, on State's efforts to prepare for 
the upcoming surge in its consular workload in Mexico. In our work to 
date, we analyzed data provided by State on current and forecasted 
passport and nonimmigrant visa workload for all 10 posts in Mexico. 
[Footnote 1] We analyzed the reliability of State passport and NIV 
workload data and found them suitably reliable for our purposes. As 
part of our review of the data, we also assessed State's forecasting 
methodologies based upon available information. We also analyzed 
State's estimates of the staffing and facility resources needed to meet 
the anticipated workload increases in Mexico. In addition, we performed 
work at five consulates in Mexico--Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, 
Ciudad Juarez, and Tijuana--observing visa and passport processing at 
each post and meeting with consular management and representatives from 
the Nonimmigrant Visa and American Citizen Services units. We also 
conducted a series of interviews with State officials in Washington, 
D.C. Lastly, we reviewed a range of State and Mission Mexico 
documentation, including Mission Performance Plans, consular packages, 
rightsizing reports, policy guidance documents, and various cables and 
memos. 

We conducted this performance audit from November 2007 to June 2008 in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those 
standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain 
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that 
the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and 
conclusions based on our audit objectives. 

Summary: 

State anticipates that Mission Mexico's NIV and passport workload will 
likely double from fiscal year 2007 to 2011, with NIV applications 
continuing to constitute the vast majority of the mission's workload. 
Mission Mexico will experience a substantial growth in its NIV workload 
primarily due to the need to renew millions of Border Crossing Cards 
that are set to expire beginning in fiscal year 2008. According to 
State forecasts from April 2008, Mission Mexico's NIV demand will peak 
at slightly over 3 million applications in fiscal year 2011, a 103 
percent increase from fiscal year 2007. NIV demand will then begin to 
decline in fiscal year 2012. On June 18, State informed us that it has 
produced revised forecasts based upon a newly developed methodology; 
however, we have not had time to assess these forecasts or include them 
in the testimony. State acknowledges it is uncertain about how many 
Border Crossing Card holders will renew their cards and the number of 
first time NIV applicants and that various methodological factors 
associated with their April 2008 projections may also affect the 
accuracy of its forecasts. However, State officials believe the 
forecasts are more likely to overestimate demand. For example, to be 
conservative, State assumes in its projections that all Border Crossing 
Card holders will renew their cards upon expiration, even though a 
number of card holders are unlikely to renew their cards because they 
have either legally or illegally immigrated to the United States. 
Consequently, State intends to use these forecasts as a rough guide in 
developing plans to meet the upcoming surge in NIV workload. In 
addition to the increase in NIV workload, Mission Mexico will be facing 
increases in its passport workload due to the implementation of WHTI. 
The magnitude of the increase in passport workload is more difficult to 
forecast because, unlike with the NIV surge, there is no historical 
precedent. Also, there is a great deal of uncertainty as to how many 
U.S. citizens actually live in Mexico, or the number of these citizens 
likely to apply for a passport. Despite the challenges developing 
passport forecasts, State has created some initial estimates of 
workload increases caused by the implementation of WHTI; the estimates 
show passport and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA) workload 
peaking at 73,000 applications in fiscal year 2009--the year in which 
WHTI requires a passport for travel to the United States by land 
[Footnote 2]--and fiscal year 2010, then declining.[Footnote 3] 

In anticipation of the surge in demand for NIVs and U.S. passports in 
Mexico, State is taking several steps to ensure that consulates in 
Mexico keep pace with projected workload increases through 2012, 
including adding interviewing windows to several posts; it also plans 
to hire about 100 temporary adjudicating officers with renewable 1-year 
contracts. Consular officials we met with at several high-demand posts 
in Mexico generally agreed that State's plans, if fully implemented, to 
expand resources and implement new procedures should be adequate for 
Mission Mexico to keep pace with expected workload increases. However, 
as State continues to revise its estimates of future workload, it may 
need to adjust its resource plans to reflect the latest assumptions 
about future demand for passports and NIVs. Our analysis of NIV 
interview window capacity indicates that Mission Mexico should 
generally have enough windows at the peak of NIV demand projected for 
fiscal year 2011. State's plans to hire temporary adjudicators would 
almost double the existing number of consular officers throughout 
Mission Mexico during the surge and allow posts to reduce staff levels 
when the surge is over. Monterrey, Mexico City, Ciudad Juarez, and 
Tijuana are expected to be the heaviest users of temporary adjudicators 
and would therefore be at greatest risk of increased NIV backlogs if 
temporary adjudicator slots cannot be filled. However, State officials 
are confident they have an adequate pool from which to hire qualified 
people to fill these slots in time to meet peak demand in Mexico. State 
also began a pilot program that outsources a portion of the NIV 
application process that does not require the direct involvement of 
consular officers, including biometric data collection, at off-site 
facilities. The pilot began in the spring of 2008 in Nuevo Laredo and 
Monterrey. Because it is ongoing, we are unable to assess its potential 
impact on productivity, fraud, or security. Additional efficiencies may 
be gained at posts in Mexico from State's recent guidance authorizing 
consular officers to waive interviews of certain NIV renewal 
applicants.[Footnote 4] In addition, while posts acknowledged that 
predicting demand in Mexico for U.S. passports resulting from WHTI is 
difficult, they believe they have enough flexibility to shift resources 
from NIV sections as needed to avoid significant backlogs in processing 
passport applications. 

Background: 

Foreign nationals who wish to visit the United States, including 
business travelers and tourists, must generally obtain a nonimmigrant 
visa. The majority of travelers visiting the United States from Mexico 
receive an NIV Border Crossing Card, which is valid for 10 years. In 
order to obtain a Border Crossing Card, applicants must generally: (1) 
schedule an appointment for a visa interview at a U.S. consulate, (2) 
fill out an application and pay applicable fees, (3) have their photos 
taken and fingerprints collected at a U.S. consulate, (4) have their 
information checked in the Consular Lookout and Support System--State's 
name-check database that consulates use to access critical information 
for visa adjudication, and (5) have an interview with a consular 
officer, who is responsible for making the adjudication decision. 

In 1996, Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant 
Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), which required that every Border Crossing 
Card issued after April 1, 1998, contain a biometric identifier, such 
as a fingerprint, and be machine readable. The law also mandated that 
all Border Crossing Cards issued before April 1, 1998, would expire on 
October 1, 1999, regardless of when their validity period ended. This 
deadline was extended by Congress two times, first to September 30, 
2001, and then to September 30, 2002. The passage of IIRIRA created a 
significant surge in Mission Mexico's NIV workload, as Border Crossing 
Card holders sought to obtain the new visas before the congressionally 
mandated expiration date. This culminated in a historic high in NIV 
workload in fiscal year 2001, when the mission processed 2,869,000 NIV 
applications. 

We have previously reported on challenges State faced in managing its 
NIV workload.[Footnote 5] Among other things, we found that NIV 
applicants have often had to wait for extended periods of time to 
receive appointments for interviews. Believing that wait times for NIV 
interviews were excessive, in February 2007, State announced a 
worldwide goal of interviewing NIV applicants within 30 days. In the 
year before the 30-day goal was announced, the average wait time across 
the consulates in Mexico had been as high as 73 days; by the time of 
the announcement of the 30-day goal, however, Mission Mexico had 
already successfully reduced the average wait time to less than 30 days 
at all but one of its posts. Since February 2007, the mission has 
successfully kept the average wait time among the consulates at less 
than 30 days.[Footnote 6] 

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative: 

In response to recommendations in the 9/11 Commission report, the 
Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, as amended, 
required that the Secretary of Homeland Security, in conjunction with 
the Secretary of State, develop and implement a plan that requires 
United States citizens to provide a passport, other document, or 
combination of documents that the Secretary of Homeland Security deems 
sufficient to show identity and citizenship when entering the United 
States from certain countries, including Mexico. This will represent a 
significant change for many U.S. citizens living in Mexico, who have 
until recently been able to routinely cross between the United States 
and Mexico with more limited documentation. The Department of Homeland 
Security (DHS) and State are implementing these requirements through 
WHTI. DHS implemented WHTI at all air ports of entry into the United 
States on January 23, 2007, and plans to implement the requirements at 
land and sea ports of entry beginning in June 2009, assuming that DHS 
and State can certify 3 months in advance that certain criteria have 
been met, as required under the law.[Footnote 7] 

State Anticipates Significant Increases in Mission Mexico's 
Nonimmigrant Visa and Passport Workload from Fiscal Years 2007 to 2011: 

Ten years after the first surge in demand for Border Crossing Cards 
began in fiscal year 1998, State anticipates another surge in NIV 
demand in Mexico as these cards begin to expire and millions of card 
holders apply for renewals at U.S. consulates. In addition to this 
cyclical surge in demand caused by the expiring Border Crossing Cards, 
State officials anticipate that Mission Mexico will continue to 
experience steady growth in demand from first-time visa applicants. To 
assist in preparing for these increases, State has developed forecasts 
of the expected future NIV workload in Mexico.[Footnote 8] The NIV 
projections and forecasting methodology discussed in this report are 
based upon data State provided to us in February and April 2008. On 
June 18, State informed us that it has developed revised NIV forecasts 
for Mission Mexico based upon an alternative methodology. We have not 
yet had time to analyze these NIV forecasts or incorporate them into 
this testimony, but we may include a discussion of them in our final 
report, which is scheduled to be completed at the end of July 2008. 

State's forecasts, as of April 2008, anticipate that the upcoming surge 
in NIV demand will follow a pattern similar to the previous Border 
Crossing Card surge from fiscal years 1998 to 2002, as shown in figure 
1. According to the forecasts, the surge will begin in fiscal year 
2008, with missionwide NIV demand peaking at a little more than 3 
million applications in fiscal year 2011--a 103 percent increase in 
demand from fiscal year 2007. The forecasts show the surge beginning to 
abate in fiscal year 2012. 

Figure 1: Comparison of Demand Forecast for Mission Mexico to Border 
Crossing Cards Issued in Fiscal Years 1998 to 2002: 

[See PDF for image] 

This figure contains two line graphs depicting the following data: 

Border Crossing Cards issued, fiscal years 1998–2002: 

Fiscal year: 1998; 
Number of cards issued: 299,205. 

Fiscal year: 1999; 
Number of cards issued: 644,856. 

Fiscal year: 2000; 
Number of cards issued: 1,495,580. 

Fiscal year: 2001; 
Number of cards issued: 1,990,400. 

Fiscal year: 2002; 
Number of cards issued: 1.399,820. 

State demand forecast, fiscal years 2007–2012: 

Fiscal year: 2007; 
Number of applications: 1,513,320. 

Fiscal year: 2008; 
Number of applications: 1,825,600. 

Fiscal year: 2009; 
Number of applications: 2,287,240. 

Fiscal year: 2010; 
Number of applications: 2,762,220. 

Fiscal year: 2011; 
Number of applications: 3,079,130. 

Fiscal year: 2012; 
Number of applications: 2,470,590. 

Source: GAO analysis of State data. 

Note: State's NIV demand forecasts include Border Crossing Cards, as 
well as other types of nonimmigrant visas. This forecast is as of April 
2008. 

[End of figure] 

In addition to the missionwide forecast, State has developed demand 
forecasts for individual consulates. As shown in figure 2, State's 
forecasts anticipate that Mexico City will have the highest levels of 
demand, with applications growing to over 580,000 in fiscal year 2010. 
While Mexico City is projected to have the highest overall demand, 
State anticipates that the steepest increases in demand will occur at 
border posts.[Footnote 9] This follows a pattern similar to the 
previous Border Crossing Card surge, where the border consulates 
assumed a greater share of the total mission workload during the surge, 
with this share then diminishing again at the surge's end. 

Figure 2: Mexico Posts' NIV Demand Forecasts, Fiscal Years 2007 - 2012: 

[See PDF for image] 

This figure is a multiple line graph depicting the following data: 

Fiscal year: 2007; 
Number of applicants, Ciudad Juarez: 97,794; 
Number of applicants, Guadalajara: 253,295; 
Number of applicants, Hermosillo: 116,931; 
Number of applicants, Matamoros: 127,570; 
Number of applicants, Merida: 44,441; 
Number of applicants, Mexico City: 415,129; 
Number of applicants, Monterrey: 234,126; 
Number of applicants, Tijuana: 103,746. 

Fiscal year: 2008; 
Number of applicants, Ciudad Juarez: 208,387; 
Number of applicants, Guadalajara: 226,599; 
Number of applicants, Hermosillo: 122,917; 
Number of applicants, Matamoros: 133,638; 
Number of applicants, Merida: 47,293; 
Number of applicants, Mexico City: 551,341; 
Number of applicants, Monterrey: 286,893; 
Number of applicants, Tijuana: 128,246. 

Fiscal year: 2009; 
Number of applicants, Ciudad Juarez: 421,901; 
Number of applicants, Guadalajara: 244,279; 
Number of applicants, Hermosillo: 121,536; 
Number of applicants, Matamoros: 165,609; 
Number of applicants, Merida: 55,322; 
Number of applicants, Mexico City: 564,612; 
Number of applicants, Monterrey: 301,126; 
Number of applicants, Tijuana: 175,335. 

Fiscal year: 2010; 
Number of applicants, Ciudad Juarez: 345,494; 
Number of applicants, Guadalajara: 281,833; 
Number of applicants, Hermosillo: 163,292; 
Number of applicants, Matamoros: 204,716; 
Number of applicants, Merida: 45,237; 
Number of applicants, Mexico City: 580,289; 
Number of applicants, Monterrey: 333,839; 
Number of applicants, Tijuana: 342,455. 

Fiscal year: 2011; 
Number of applicants, Ciudad Juarez: 434,473; 
Number of applicants, Guadalajara: 320,727; 
Number of applicants, Hermosillo: 159,973; 
Number of applicants, Matamoros: 282,263; 
Number of applicants, Merida: 48,240; 
Number of applicants, Mexico City: 575,853; 
Number of applicants, Monterrey: 357,410; 
Number of applicants, Tijuana: 343,189. 

Fiscal year: 2012; 
Number of applicants, Ciudad Juarez: 349,663; 
Number of applicants, Guadalajara: 278,349; 
Number of applicants, Hermosillo: 178,005; 
Number of applicants, Matamoros: 249,290; 
Number of applicants, Merida: 38,742; 
Number of applicants, Mexico City: 501,170; 
Number of applicants, Monterrey: 329,787; 
Number of applicants, Tijuana: 175,642. 

Note: This forecast is from April 2008 when State's methodology for 
generating demand forecasts relied upon workload data from fiscal years 
1997 and 1998. State was unable to generate its own demand forecasts 
for the border posts of Nogales and Nuevo Laredo because Nogales was 
not open and Nuevo Laredo was not issuing visas at the time. 

[End of figure] 

Estimating future NIV demand is inherently uncertain, and State 
acknowledges that several factors could affect the accuracy of its 
April 2008 NIV demand forecasts. First, the forecasts are based heavily 
upon Change Navigators' 2005 Consular Affairs Futures Study (CAFS), 
which generated NIV demand forecasts for various high-volume and high- 
growth missions around the globe, including Mexico.[Footnote 10] Thus, 
the extent to which the underlying CAFS numbers prove to be accurate 
affects State's revised forecasts. While the CAFS includes a general 
analysis of how various demographic, economic, and political factors 
impact NIV demand across countries, it does not explain how it arrived 
at its specific forecasts for Mexico. Based upon our review of the 
forecasts, it appears that the CAFS authors relied primarily upon 
historical workload data from the previous Border Crossing Card surge, 
but we could not assess how, if at all, other considerations were 
factored into the forecasts. Second, methodological issues associated 
with State's April 2008 NIV forecasts may affect their accuracy in 
projecting demand. For example, State relied heavily on actual demand 
data from fiscal year 2007 to revise the CAFS forecasts, in order to 
try to better account for growth in demand from first-time visa 
applicants. In doing so, State assumed demand for fiscal year 2007 was 
representative of the underlying long-term growth in NIV demand. 
However, this is not necessarily the case, as State officials 
acknowledge demand may have been artificially high in fiscal year 2007 
as posts worked off backlogs that had accumulated from previous years. 
State officials also noted that they chose to be conservative and 
assume all Border Crossing Card holders would renew their cards when 
they expire. However, this is not likely to happen, as a portion of 
Border Crossing Card holders have had their cards lost or stolen and 
already had them replaced, while others have either legally or 
illegally immigrated to the United States and will not be returning to 
renew their cards. Consequently, the forecasts could prove to be higher 
than actual demand depending on the share of Border Crossing Card 
holders who do not seek a renewal at the expiration of their card. 

State's approach to forecasting NIV workload, based on historical 
precedent and underlying growth in demand, and other factors, provide a 
reasonable basis for addressing the anticipated surge in NIV demand. 
State has detailed data on the number of Border Crossing Cards issued 
during the previous surge and when they are expiring, which gives it a 
strong basis for its projections. Further, even if the NIV forecasts do 
not prove completely accurate, State officials do not expect 
significant risks for several reasons. First, State officials believe 
that the forecasts are conservative, with NIV demand likely to be lower 
than forecasted. Second, State intends to avoid relying on the exact 
numbers in the forecasts and is instead using them as a rough guide in 
developing plans to meet the upcoming surge in NIV workload. Third, 
State officials believe they have developed these plans with sufficient 
flexibility to be able to respond as needed if actual workload deviates 
from the forecasts. Finally, State plans to continually track demand at 
the consulates as the NIV surge unfolds and will revise these forecasts 
periodically. 

Passport Workload: 

In addition to the surge in NIV workload, Mission Mexico will also 
experience a surge in its passport workload as a result of the 
implementation of WHTI at air ports of entry in January 2007 and its 
subsequent, intended implementation at land and sea ports in June 2009. 
According to State officials, the mission has already seen a 
significant increase in its passport workload as U.S. citizens living 
in Mexico have begun to apply for passports in response to the new 
documentary requirements. Mission Mexico's passport and CRBA workload, 
which State tracks together because both types of applications are 
handled by consular officers in posts' American Citizen Services units, 
grew to 34,496 applications in fiscal year 2007, a 77 percent increase 
from fiscal year 2006. Despite the expected increases, passport 
workload will continue to be only a fraction of Mission Mexico's 
workload, relative to NIV applications. 

While State expects passport workload in Mexico to continue to increase 
significantly in the coming years, it is difficult to predict precisely 
what the magnitude of this increase will be. Unlike with the NIV surge, 
there is not a clear historical precedent to the WHTI surge. 
Additionally, there is a great deal of uncertainty regarding the number 
of U.S. citizens living in Mexico and the number of these citizens who 
are potential passport applicants. Therefore, efforts to forecast 
increases in passport workload due to WHTI are extremely challenging. 
Nonetheless, State has developed rough estimates of Mission Mexico's 
passport and CRBA workload with the implementation of WHTI. These 
estimates are based on the input of experienced consular officers 
because the lack of data on U.S. citizens living in Mexico made any 
type of statistical analysis problematic. Based upon State's estimates, 
Mission Mexico's WHTI workload is projected to peak at 73,000 passport 
and CRBA applications in fiscal year 2009 with the implementation of 
WHTI at land ports of entry. State anticipates that passport and CRBA 
workload will continue at that peak rate in fiscal year 2010 and then 
begin to decline. In its estimates, State predicts that from fiscal 
years 2007 to 2009, workload will increase by around 177 percent for 
Mission Mexico. 

To this point, State has not revised its WHTI estimates based on 
workload in fiscal year 2007, or year to date in the current fiscal 
year, even though the workload estimates were low in fiscal year 2007. 
State says it has not needed to revise its estimates at this point, 
because posts have been able to keep up with workload increases without 
the need for additional resources. In addition, rather than focusing on 
developing precise workload estimates in order to prepare for the 
surge, State has instead chosen to pursue strategies designed to 
provide it with the flexibility to respond to increases in workload as 
they occur--particularly as a more limited number of resources will be 
needed to cover increases in passport and CRBA applications than NIV 
applications, given their small share of Mission Mexico's overall 
consular workload. 

State Is Adding Interviewing Windows and Temporary Adjudicators to 
Posts in Mexico to Keep Pace with Projected Workload Increases: 

To keep pace with the expected NIV renewal surge, State is increasing 
the total number of hardened interview windows in the consulates' NIV 
sections by over 50 percent before the demand peaks in 2011.[Footnote 
11] State added windows to the consulate in Hermosillo in fiscal year 
2007 and will soon be adding windows to the consulates in Monterrey and 
Mexico City.[Footnote 12] In addition, new consulate compounds in 
Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana will result in additional windows for 
adjudicating NIV applications.[Footnote 13] The new facility in Ciudad 
Juarez is set to open in September 2008, and construction on the new 
building in Tijuana began this past April. Once completed, these 
projects will provide Mission Mexico with the window capacity to 
interview about 1 million additional NIV applicants per year.[Footnote 
14] Table 1 compares the number of interview windows available in 
fiscal year 2007 to the number that will be available by fiscal year 
2011, when NIV demand peaks. 

Table 1: NIV Interview Windows in Fiscal Years 2007 and 2011: 

Post: Ciudad Juarez; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2007: 11; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2011: 23; 
Expected date for additional windows: September 2008. 

Post: Guadalajara; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2007: 10; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2011: 10; 
Expected date for additional windows: [Empty]. 

Post: Hermosillo; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2007: 13; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2011: 13; 
Expected date for additional windows: [Empty]. 

Post: Matamoros; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2007: 7; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2011: 7; 
Expected date for additional windows: [Empty]. 

Post: Merida; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2007: 4; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2011: 4; 
Expected date for additional windows: [Empty]. 

Post: Mexico City; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2007: 15; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2011: 23; 
Expected date for additional windows: August 2008. 

Post: Monterrey; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2007: 10; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2011: 26; 
Expected date for additional windows: February 2009. 

Post: Nogales; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2007: 6; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2011: 6; 
Expected date for additional windows: [Empty]. 

Post: Nuevo Laredo; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2007: 7; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2011: 7; 
Expected date for additional windows: [Empty]. 

Post: Tijuana; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2007: 14; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2011: 30; 
Expected date for additional windows: September 2010. 

Post: Total; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2007: 97; 
Number of NIV windows in FY 2011: 149; 
Expected date for additional windows: [Empty]. 

Source: GAO analysis of State data. 

Note: Some of these windows are typically reserved for enrollment 
functions as part of the visa application process, which would limit 
their availability for interviewing applicants. The new facility in 
Ciudad Juarez will have 89 windows available for NIV and immigrant visa 
adjudications, although State estimates that Ciudad Juarez will need 
only 23 of these windows for NIV applicants. 

[End of table] 

Consulate officials at the posts we visited generally expressed 
confidence that they will have sufficient window capacity to keep pace 
with the expected NIV demand and avoid excessive wait times for 
interviews beyond State's standard of 30 days. As shown in figure 3, 
our analysis of expected window capacity also indicates that Mission 
Mexico generally appears to have enough window capacity to keep pace 
with projected demand, based on the April 2008 projections. However, 
State officials acknowledge that two posts, Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros, 
will not have adequate window capacity during the NIV surge. 
Consequently, NIV applicants may face longer wait times for an 
interview appointment at these posts. State officials noted that 
individuals who would typically apply at one of these two posts will 
have the option to schedule appointments at the relatively nearby 
consulate in Monterrey, which is expected to have excess window 
capacity during the surge in demand. At other posts, the potential 
shortfall in window capacity, reflected in figure 3, appears to be 
small enough that it can likely be managed by extending hours that 
windows are open, if necessary. Although Guadalajara also appears to 
have a significant shortfall, consular officials there believe the post 
should be able to absorb the increased workload with the number of 
windows available as long as they have enough staff to work the windows 
in shifts to keep them open all day, if necessary.[Footnote 15] 

Figure 3: Comparison of Projected NIV Demand to NIV Window Capacity in 
Fiscal Year 2011: 

[See PDF for image] 

This figure is a multiple vertical bar graph depicting the following 
data: 

Post: Tijuana;	
NIV applications/interviews, workload projections, as of April 2008: 
343,189; 
NIV applications/interviews, Interview capacity of windows: 702,000. 

Post: Monterrey; 
NIV applications/interviews, workload projections, as of April 2008: 
357,410; 
NIV applications/interviews, Interview capacity of windows: 608,400. 

Post: Hermasillo; 
NIV applications/interviews, workload projections, as of April 2008: 
159,973; 
NIV applications/interviews, Interview capacity of windows: 304,200. 

Post: Ciudad Juarez; 
NIV applications/interviews, workload projections, as of April 2008: 
434,473; 
NIV applications/interviews, Interview capacity of windows: 538,200. 

Post: Merida; 
NIV applications/interviews, workload projections, as of April 2008: 
48,240; 
NIV applications/interviews, Interview capacity of windows: 93,600. 

Post: Nogales; 
NIV applications/interviews, workload projections, as of April 2008: 
147,792; 
NIV applications/interviews, Interview capacity of windows: 140,400. 

Post: Mexico City; 
NIV applications/interviews, workload projections, as of April 2008: 
575,853; 
NIV applications/interviews, Interview capacity of windows: 538,200. 

Post: Guadalajara; 
NIV applications/interviews, workload projections, as of April 2008: 
320,727; 
NIV applications/interviews, Interview capacity of windows: 234,000. 

Post: Matamoras; 
NIV applications/interviews, workload projections, as of April 2008: 
282,263; 
NIV applications/interviews, Interview capacity of windows: 163,800. 

Post: Nuevo Laredo; 
NIV applications/interviews, workload projections, as of April 2008: 
289,728; 
NIV applications/interviews, Interview capacity of windows: 163,800. 

Source: GAO analysis of State data. 

Note: Window capacity is based on State's estimate of an average of 
23,400 interviews of NIV applicants per window per year (number of 
windows, multiplied by 23,400). Workload projections are as of April 
2008 and were generated by State, with the exception of Nuevo Laredo 
and Nogales. Consular Affairs did not have sufficient data to generate 
its own projections for these two posts and, therefore, relied on 
projections from the CAFS. 

[End of figure] 

State Plans to Hire Temporary Adjudicators: 

In addition to the increase in hardened windows, Mission Mexico 
requires a significant increase in adjudicators over the next few 
years. Based on NIV and passport workload projections, provided in 
April 2008, State estimates it will need 217 adjudicators throughout 
Mission Mexico in fiscal year 2011, which is the expected peak year of 
the surge in NIV demand.[Footnote 16] This number is an increase of 96 
adjudicators, or about 80 percent, over the number of adjudicator 
positions in place in fiscal year 2007. State may revise its staffing 
plans as it generates updated forecasts. 

State plans to meet its staffing needs during the expected workload 
surge primarily by hiring a temporary workforce of consular 
adjudicators that can be assigned to posts throughout Mission Mexico, 
depending on each post's workload demands. Figure 4 shows the number of 
temporary adjudicators and career adjudicators planned for Mission 
Mexico in fiscal year 2011. State officials noted that relying on a 
temporary workforce allows Mission Mexico to avoid having excess staff 
after the workload surge and reduces costs per staff compared to 
permanent hires.[Footnote 17] State has budgeted for about 100 
temporary adjudicators to be in place during the surge in workload 
demand, although State officials noted that these budgeted funds could 
be reprogrammed if fewer than expected adjudicators are needed. 
[Footnote 18] State has already posted the job announcement on its Web 
site and expected to begin placing these additional temporary 
adjudicators at posts in fiscal year 2009. State officials noted that 
they will try to fill slots gradually to help posts absorb the 
additional staff.[Footnote 19] 

Figure 4: Temporary Adjudicators and Career Adjudicating Officers 
Planned for Fiscal Year 2011: 

[See PDF for image] 

This figure is a stacked vertical bar graph depicting the following 
data: 

Post: Monterrey; 
Temporary adjudicators: 24; 
Career officers: 22; 
Total: 45. 

Post: Mexico City;
Temporary adjudicators: 31; 
Career officers: 11; 
Total: 42. 

Post: Ciudata Jarez; 
Temporary adjudicators: 12; 
Career officers: 19; 
Total: 31. 

Post: Tijuana; 
Temporary adjudicators: 15; 
Career officers: 11; 
Total: 26. 

Post: Guadalajara; 
Temporary adjudicators: 20; 
Career officers: 4; 
Total: 24. 

Post: Nuevo Jaredo; 
Temporary adjudicators: 7; 
Career officers: 6; 
Total: 13. 

Post: Hermosillo; 
Temporary adjudicators: 10; 
Career officers: 1; 
Total: 11. 

Post: Matamoros; 
Temporary adjudicators: 9; 
Career officers: 2; 
Total: 11. 

Post: Nogales; 
Temporary adjudicators: 5; 
Career officers: 4; 
Total: 9. 

Post: Merida; 
Temporary adjudicators: 3; 
Career officers: 1; 
Total: 4. 

Source: GAO analysis of State data. 

[End of figure] 

The temporary hires will be commissioned as consular officers with 1- 
year, noncareer appointments that can be renewed annually for up to 5 
years. They will also receive the same 6-week Basic Consular Course at 
the Foreign Service Institute[Footnote 20] in Arlington, Virginia, as 
permanent Foreign Service officers. These individuals must be U.S. 
citizens, obtain a security clearance, and be functionally fluent in 
Spanish. Housing in Mexico for the temporary adjudicators will be 
arranged for by the State Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington, 
D.C., through contract services, which will provide greater flexibility 
to move adjudicators from one post to another, if necessary. 

As figure 4 indicates, posts in Monterrey, Mexico City, Ciudad Juarez, 
and Tijuana are expected to be the heaviest users of temporary 
adjudicators. Consequently, these posts would be at greatest risk of 
increased NIV backlogs if temporary adjudicator slots cannot be filled 
as needed or if their productivity is not as high as anticipated. 
However, State officials believe they have an adequate pool of 
potential candidates from among returning Peace Corps volunteers, 
graduates of the National Security Education Program,[Footnote 21] 
eligible family members,[Footnote 22] and retired Foreign Service 
officers. These officials noted that they recently began reaching out 
to targeted groups of potential applicants and have already received 
strong interest. Furthermore, officials from the posts we visited were 
confident that State's plan to provide them with additional consular 
officers would enable them to keep pace with workload demand. Post 
officials anticipate the same level of productivity and supervision 
requirements as they would expect from new career Foreign Service 
officers. The officials noted that new consular adjudicators typically 
take about 2 months of working the NIV interview windows to reach the 
productivity levels of more experienced adjudicators. 

New Processing Practices May Help Mission Keep Pace with NIV Demand: 

State began a pilot program in the spring of 2008 at two posts, 
Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo, to outsource part of the NIV application 
process, including biometric data collection, to an off-site facility. 
[Footnote 23] The pilot is part of an effort by State to establish a 
new service delivery model for processing visas worldwide in response 
to long-term growth in demand for visas.[Footnote 24] State envisions 
expanding this model throughout Mexico and other high-demand posts 
worldwide through a formal request for proposal process. State also 
envisions the possibility of providing off-site data collection 
facilities serving NIV applicants in cities that do not have 
consulates. In Monterrey, the pilot made space available in the 
consulate facility to add much needed NIV interview windows. 

The pilot is implemented by a contractor that handles functions that do 
not require the direct involvement of a consular officer, including 
scanning of applicants' fingerprints and passports, live-capture 
digital photograph, and visa passback.[Footnote 25] Consular officers 
at these two posts focus on their "core mission" of making adjudication 
decisions after the contractor has electronically transferred the 
applicants' application and biometric data. The cost of outsourcing 
these functions is covered through an additional fee of $26 paid by the 
applicants.[Footnote 26] Consulate officials at the posts involved in 
the pilot are responsible for monitoring the performance of the 
contractor through the use of surveillance cameras, random visits to 
the off-site facility, and validation reviews of NIV applications to 
check for incidence of fraud or incorrect information. According to 
State officials, the contractor does not have the ability to alter any 
of the data it collects, and a U.S. citizen with a security clearance 
is on site to manage the facility. Consular officials in Monterrey 
stressed the importance of monitoring contractor employees to help 
ensure they do not coach applicants.[Footnote 27] 

State officials stated that the department intends to assess the pilot 
to ensure that the technological challenges of remote biometric data 
collection and data transfer have been overcome. They will also assess 
whether the new software involved presents the data to consular 
officers in a user-friendly format to facilitate the adjudication. In 
addition, State will monitor adjudication rates at the participating 
posts. State has neither established specific milestones for completing 
the pilot nor provided us with any metrics that would be part of an 
assessment of the potential impact on productivity, fraud, or security. 

In another step to help posts keep pace with NIV demand, Mission Mexico 
has also begun to waive interviews of NIV renewal applicants allowable 
under certain circumstances established by federal law and State 
regulations. State recently provided guidance to posts worldwide on 
waiving interviews for certain applicants, following the transition to 
the collection of 10 fingerprints and technology allowing reuse of 
fingerprints. The policy only applies to applicants seeking to renew 
their biometric NIVs within 12 months of expiration. Consular officers 
retain the discretion to require any applicant to appear for an 
interview, and no applicant may have an interview waived unless they 
clear all computer-based security screening. According to State 
guidance, consular officers will also have the discretion to waive 
interviews of applicants as part of the off-site data collection model 
being piloted in Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo, when prints collected off 
site match with the applicant's fingerprints already in the system. 
According to State officials, this will be possible beginning in 2009, 
when Border Crossing Cards issued after 1999 containing biometric data 
start to expire. 

The Monterrey and Ciudad Juarez posts have already begun to waive 
interviews of applicants renewing NIVs and found significant 
productivity gains.[Footnote 28] As a result, officers there were able 
to adjudicate cases more rapidly and better utilize window capacity, 
according to consular officials. These posts also found no significant 
difference in denial rates for NIV renewal applicants who were 
interviewed compared to those whose interviews were waived, although 
post and Bureau of Consular Affairs officials noted it was necessary to 
continue monitoring the effect of waiving interviews. These officials 
also highlighted the need to adjust consular training to be consistent 
with State's current guidance on waiving interviews under certain 
circumstances. 

Efforts to Meet Increased Passport Demand: 

Posts in Mexico will also be increasing resources for adjudicating 
additional passport applications, which are expected to peak in fiscal 
year 2009. Although the volume of passport applications is much smaller 
than NIV applications, adjudicating passport applications for American 
citizens takes precedence over NIV applications. Consular officials at 
posts we visited noted that because of the uncertainty over future 
passport demand, they will depend on their flexibility to shift 
adjudicators from NIV work to passport work, as needed. In addition, 
consular officials stated they will have the option of using NIV 
interview windows to adjudicate passports applications--possibly during 
off hours, if necessary. 

In addition, posts are seeking ways to become more efficient in how 
they process the increasing volume of passports. For example, many 
posts have recently implemented an appointment system to better manage 
the flow of passport applicants and have also improved their Web sites 
to help provide better assistance to applicants, many of whom do not 
speak English and are applying for passports for the first time. State 
is also upgrading its software used for passport processing in overseas 
posts to enable posts to scan passport applications, which they expect 
will reduce staff resources needed for data entry. Some posts are also 
considering increased use of consular agents in other locations, such 
as Puerto Vallarta or Cabo San Lucas, to accept passport applications 
to help relieve some of the workload for consular staff. In addition, 
some posts have suggested exploring possibilities for processing 
passport renewals by mail, which would also help relieve overcrowding. 

Concluding Remarks: 

In anticipation of the expected surge in demand for NIVs and U.S. 
passports in Mexico over the next several years, State has taken 
several steps to project workloads and expand the capacity of its 
consulates to avoid the type of backlogs that have occurred in Mission 
Mexico in the past. State's efforts to increase the number of hardened 
interview windows at several of its consulates and hire additional 
temporary consular officers represent a substantial increase in 
resources needed to keep pace with the projected surge in NIV and 
passport workload. As State continues to revise its estimates of future 
workload, it may need to adjust its plans for increasing these 
resources to reflect the latest assumptions about future demand for 
passports and NIVs. The success of the efforts to prepare for the 
surges in passport and NIV workload is likely to depend on State's 
ability to fill the roughly 100 slots it has budgeted for temporary 
adjudicators in time to meet the surge in workload. Several posts in 
Mexico will rely heavily on these additional staff to keep pace with 
expected demand for NIVs and avoid excessive wait times for interviews 
of applicants. However, State officials have expressed confidence that 
they will be able to fill these positions with qualified candidates. In 
addition, Mission Mexico may reap productivity gains from a pilot 
program to outsource part of the NIV application process at off-site 
facilities and from State's policy to waive interviews for some renewal 
applicants; however, these efforts are in their early stages and are 
not yet widely implemented. Consequently, it would be premature to 
assess the potential effects of these efforts. We discussed this 
testimony with State officials, who agreed with our findings. 

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared statement. I would be happy to 
answer any questions you or other Members of the Subcommittee may have 
at this time. 

GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

For further information regarding this testimony, please contact Jess 
T. Ford at (202) 512-4128 or fordj@gao.gov. Juan Gobel, Assistant 
Director; Ashley Alley; Joe Carney; Howard Cott; David Dornisch; 
Michael Hoffman; and Ryan Vaughan made key contributions to this 
statement. 

[End of testimony] 

Footnotes: 

[1] In addition to the consular section in the U.S. embassy in Mexico 
City, Mission Mexico has consulates in nine cities--Ciudad Juarez, 
Guadalajara, Hermosillo, Matamoros, Merida, Monterrey, Nogales, Nuevo 
Laredo, and Tijuana. 

[2] WHTI will be implemented June 1, 2009, so long as State and the 
Department of Homeland Security have certified 3 months in advance that 
several criteria have been met. Pub. L. No. 110-161, Div. E, Title V, 
§545 (Dec. 26, 2007). 

[3] State tracks passport and CRBA applications together because both 
types of applications are handled by consular officers in posts' 
American Citizen Services units. 

[4] Current law and State regulations allow for the waiver of the NIV 
interview in limited circumstances, including when an applicant is 
applying for a renewal and (1) it is within 12 months of the expiration 
of the previous biometric visa, (2) it is for the same classification 
of visa, (3) the applicant is applying at the consular post of his or 
her usual residence, and (4) the Foreign Service Officer adjudicating 
the case has no indication of visa ineligibility or of noncompliance 
with U.S. immigration laws and regulations. 

[5] See GAO, Border Security: Long-Term Strategy Needed to Keep Pace 
with Increasing Demand for Visas, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-
bin/getrpt?GAO-07-847] (Washington, D.C.: July 13, 2007); and Border 
Security: Reassessment of Consular Resource Requirements Could Help 
Address Visa Delays, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-
06-542T] (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 4, 2006). 

[6] Over this period, Monterrey is the only post in Mexico where wait 
times averaged over 30 days in more than 1 month. 

[7] According to the April 2008 final rule on WHTI implementation at 
sea and land ports of entry, DHS and State believe that these 
certifications will be made well in advance of the June 1, 2009, 
deadline for implementation. In the event that DHS and State are unable 
to complete all of the necessary certifications 3 months before June 1, 
2009, the final rule states that they will provide notice to the public 
and amend the date(s) for compliance with the document requirements. 
See: Documents Required for Travelers Departing From or Arriving in the 
United States at Sea and Land Ports-of-Entry From Within the Western 
Hemisphere, Final Rule, 73 Fed. Reg. 18,384, 18,386 (Apr. 3, 2008). 

[8] State's NIV demand forecasts include Border Crossing Cards, as well 
as other types of nonimmigrant visas. 

[9] There are five border posts in Mexico: Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad 
Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, and Matamoros. 

[10] State commissioned Change Navigators, a consultancy specializing 
in business management and organization development, to examine the 
various factors that impact growth in NIV demand, to identify those 
countries likely to experience the most rapid growth in NIV demand, and 
to generate NIV demand forecasts for these countries. Mexico was among 
those countries included in the study. 

[11] These interview windows must conform to State's security standards 
to keep U.S. officials behind a hard line. A hard line is a system of 
barriers surrounding a protected area, which may afford degrees of 
forced entry, ballistic resistance or blast protection. 

[12] Hermosillo received a consular upgrade, which added eight hardened 
interview windows along with improvements to the waiting area, at a 
cost of $5.5 million. The estimated costs of adding windows to 
Monterrey and Mexico City are $1.3 million and $1.1 million, 
respectively. 

[13] The estimated costs of new compounds in Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana 
are $96 million and $92.7 million, respectively. 

[14] State assumes that adjudicating officers would typically conduct 
23,400 interviews of NIV applicants per window per year. This number 
varies depending on the conditions at individual posts. 

[15] Officers in high-demand posts in Mexico, such as Guadalajara and 
Mexico City, are expected to conduct 120 interviews per day (20 
interviews per hour at windows 6 hours per day). If windows are kept 
open 8 hours, window capacity could be expanded well beyond State's 
estimate of 23,400 interviews per year. Assuming windows are open 200 
days a year, 20 interviews per hour for 8 hours would result in 32,000 
interviews per window, per year. 

[16] State assumes that officers would each typically adjudicate 16,000 
NIV applications per year, although productivity varies depending on 
conditions at a given post, according to State officials. State also 
assumes that consular officers working in posts' American Citizen 
Services section would typically handle 2,000 passport applications in 
addition to other responsibilities, such as emergency services for 
American citizens. 

[17] State estimates the first-year costs of each roving adjudicator to 
be $120,397 per person, and second-year costs to be $106,397. According 
to State, career Foreign Service officers would have first-year costs 
of about $400,000 and second-year costs of about $200,000. 

[18] Fiscal year 2008 start-up costs were estimated to be about $6.5 
million for this program, with ongoing costs of about $11.3 million in 
fiscal year 2009 and $14.5 million in each of the fiscal years 2010 and 
2011. 

[19] State's plan for temporary adjudicators envisioned hiring 43 
adjudicators in fiscal year 2008, 35 in fiscal year 2009, 24 in 2010, 
and 15 in 2011. According to State officials, no temporary adjudicators 
have been hired thus far in fiscal year 2008 because Mission Mexico has 
not yet required them to keep up with workload. Some of the staff hired 
in the latter years of the surge will be replacements due to turnover. 

[20] The Foreign Service Institute is the federal government's primary 
training institution for officers and support personnel of the U.S. 
foreign affairs community, preparing American diplomats and other 
professionals to advance U.S. foreign affairs interests overseas and in 
Washington. 

[21] The National Security Education Program provides fellowships to 
enable graduate students to add a specialization in area study, 
language study, or increased language proficiency to their graduate 
education in exchange for a commitment to work for the federal 
government. 

[22] "Eligible family members" serve in embassies and consulates around 
the world. State's Foreign Affairs Manual (3 FAM 8212(b)) defines an 
eligible family member as a U.S. citizen spouse or a U.S. citizen child 
who is at least age 18, and who, in either case, is on the travel 
orders of a Foreign or Civil Service employee or uniformed service 
member permanently assigned to or stationed at a U.S. Foreign Service 
post or establishment abroad or at an office of the American Institute 
in Taiwan abroad, and who does not receive a U.S. government retirement 
annuity or pension based on a career in the U.S. Foreign, Civil, or 
uniformed service. 

[23] These off-site facilities are referred to as "Applicant Service 
Centers." 

[24] In January 2006, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security 
announced the Rice-Chertoff Joint Vision: Secure Borders and Open Doors 
in the Information Age, which included the goal of developing efficient 
processes to improve security while facilitating travel to the United 
States. State has included off-site visa processing as part of this 
joint vision statement. 

[25] The pilot is being implemented by the company that currently 
provides a telephone call center and appointment scheduling service to 
NIV applicants in Mexico. State modified the existing contract with 
this company to add these additional services. The contract expires on 
January 31, 2009. 

[26] This fee is in addition to the $131 visa application fee. 

[27] Contractor employees are prohibited from providing advice or 
guidance to visa applicants and are not to be involved in the visa 
decision-making process. 

[28] Monterrey waived interviews of certain NIV applicants as part of a 
pilot program from August to December 2007. The post discontinued the 
program after the departure of a cleared U.S. citizen employee who 
collected and verified fingerprints without requiring the involvement 
of a consular officer. 

[End of section] 

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