A-80675, OCTOBER 9, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 363

A-80675: Oct 9, 1936

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REFUND IS AUTHORIZED OF FEES PAID BY AN OFFICER OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT IN CONNECTION WITH THE ISSUANCE OF A VISA FOR A VISIT IN THE UNITED STATES. AS FOLLOWS: THERE IS TRANSMITTED HEREWITH A COPY OF A DESPATCH FROM THE AMERICAN CONSUL GENERAL AT LONDON. IS AWARE OF THE POSITION WHICH HAS BEEN TAKEN BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IN NUMEROUS INSTANCES. THAT FEES PAID FOR THE TAKING OF ALIEN DECLARATIONS AND FOR THE ISSUANCE OF VISAS CANNOT BE REFUNDED UNLESS IT BE SHOWN THAT THE CONSULAR OFFICER EXAMINING THE APPLICATION WAS AT FAULT EITHER IN ISSUING THE VISA OR IN COLLECTING THE FEE. IN THIS INSTANCE THE EXAMINING OFFICER APPARENTLY WAS NOT AT FAULT. SINCE THE ISSUANCE OF GRATIS VISAS TO GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IS ESSENTIALLY A MATTER OF COURTESY.

A-80675, OCTOBER 9, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 363

FOREIGN SERVICE - FEES - REFUNDS THE ACT OF JUNE 4, 1920, 41 STAT. 750, PROVIDING THAT NO FEE SHALL BE COLLECTED FROM ANY OFFICER OF ANY FOREIGN GOVERNMENT, ETC., TRAVELING TO OR THROUGH THE UNITED STATES, REFUND IS AUTHORIZED OF FEES PAID BY AN OFFICER OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT IN CONNECTION WITH THE ISSUANCE OF A VISA FOR A VISIT IN THE UNITED STATES, NOTWITHSTANDING THE OFFICER'S FAILURE AT THE TIME OF THE COLLECTION OF THE FEE TO IDENTIFY HIMSELF AS SUCH.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE, OCTOBER 9, 1936:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 18, 1936, AS FOLLOWS:

THERE IS TRANSMITTED HEREWITH A COPY OF A DESPATCH FROM THE AMERICAN CONSUL GENERAL AT LONDON, ENGLAND, IN REGARD TO A REQUEST WHICH HAS BEEN MADE BY MR. JOHN ROGERS, AN OFFICER OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT, FOR THE REFUND OF THE FEES PAID BY HIM IN CONNECTION WITH THE ISSUANCE OF A VISA FOR A VISIT IN THE UNITED STATES.

THIS DEPARTMENT, OF COURSE, IS AWARE OF THE POSITION WHICH HAS BEEN TAKEN BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IN NUMEROUS INSTANCES--- NAMELY, THAT FEES PAID FOR THE TAKING OF ALIEN DECLARATIONS AND FOR THE ISSUANCE OF VISAS CANNOT BE REFUNDED UNLESS IT BE SHOWN THAT THE CONSULAR OFFICER EXAMINING THE APPLICATION WAS AT FAULT EITHER IN ISSUING THE VISA OR IN COLLECTING THE FEE. IN THIS INSTANCE THE EXAMINING OFFICER APPARENTLY WAS NOT AT FAULT. NEVERTHELESS, SINCE THE ISSUANCE OF GRATIS VISAS TO GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IS ESSENTIALLY A MATTER OF COURTESY, IT IS BELIEVED THAT YOU WILL AGREE WITH THIS DEPARTMENT IN ITS VIEW THAT THE GOVERNMENT CANNOT AFFORD IN SUCH A CASE TO DENY A COURTESY WHICH WAS INTENDED AND PROVIDED FOR BY ITS REGULATIONS, ON THE MERE TECHNICALITY THAT THE OFFICIAL DID NOT PROPERLY IDENTIFY HIMSELF AT THE TIME OF RECEIVING HIS VISA WHICH, IT MAY BE REMARKED, WAS QUITE THE SAME IN ALL RESPECTS AS THE ONE WHICH HE WOULD HAVE RECEIVED HAD HIS IDENTITY BEEN KNOWN, EXCEPT THAT A FEE WAS CHARGED THEREFOR.

IT IS THEREFORE RECOMMENDED THAT THE CONSUL GENERAL AT LONDON BE AUTHORIZED TO REFUND THE ONE DOLLAR FEE WHICH WAS PAID BY MR. ROGERS FOR THE TAKING OF HIS NONIMMIGRANT DECLARATION, AS WELL AS THE FEE OF NINE DOLLARS WHICH WAS COLLECTED FOR THE ISSUANCE OF HIS VISA.

THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THE VISA WAS ISSUED ARE SET FORTH IN THEDESPATCH OF THE AMERICAN CONSUL GENERAL AT LONDON, DATED SEPTEMBER 1, 1936, AS FOLLOWS:

I HAVE THE HONOR TO INFORM THE DEPARTMENT THAT MR. JOHN ROGERS, WHO WAS ISSUED A SECTION 3 (2) VISA BY THIS OFFICE ON JULY 29, 1936, HAS REQUESTED A REFUND OF THE VISA FEE PAID BY HIM ON THE GROUNDS THAT HE IS A GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL.

MR. ROGERS DESCRIBES HIMSELF AS A SCIENTIFIC OFFICER, GRADE 2, ATTACHED TO THE SCIENTIFIC STAFF OF THE FUEL-RESEARCH STATION UNDER THE DEPARTMENT OF SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH. IT IS THE OPINION OF THIS CONSULATE GENERAL THAT HE IS PROPERLY CLASSIFIABLE AS A GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL, AND HE WOULD HAVE BEEN ISSUED A GRATIS SECTION 3 (2) VISA HAD HIS OFFICIAL POSITION BEEN KNOWN AT THE TIME HE APPLIED AT THIS OFFICE. HE MADE NO MENTION OF HIS STATUS AT THAT TIME, HOWEVER, NOR WAS IT INDICATED ON HIS PASSPORT. IN COMPLETING FORM 257 HE GAVE HIS PROFESSION AS "ENGINEER" AND STATED THAT HE WAS PROCEEDING TO THE UNITED STATES FOR THE PURPOSE OF ATTENDING THE WORLD POWER CONFERENCE, ALTHOUGH HE WAS NOT A DELEGATE TO THAT CONFERENCE. THE OFFICER TAKING THE APPLICATION HAD CONSEQUENTLY NO KNOWLEDGE OF MR. ROGERS'S OFFICIAL STATUS, AND THE APPLICANT WAS CHARGED THE USUAL FEE OF $10.

IN VIEW OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES OUTLINED ABOVE, INQUIRY IS RESPECTFULLY MADE AS TO WHETHER A REFUND MAY BE AUTHORIZED IN THIS CASE.

IT THUS APPEARS THAT AT THE TIME OF MAKING APPLICATION MR. ROGERS NEGLECTED TO INFORM THE CONSULAR OFFICER THAT HE WAS AN OFFICIAL OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT AND, THEREFORE, ENTITLED TO A GRATIS VISA UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 2 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 4, 1920, 41 STAT. 750, AS FOLLOWS:

FROM AND AFTER THE 1ST DAY OF JULY, 1920, THERE SHALL BE COLLECTED AND PAID INTO THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES QUARTERLY A FEE OF $1 FOR EXECUTING EACH APPLICATION OF AN ALIEN FOR A VISA AND $9 FOR EACH VISA OF THE PASSPORT OF AN ALIEN: PROVIDED, THAT NO FEE SHALL BE COLLECTED FROM ANY OFFICER OF ANY FOREIGN GOVERNMENT, OR MEMBERS OF HIS IMMEDIATE FAMILY, ITS ARMED FORCES, OR OF ANY STATE, DISTRICT, OR MUNICIPALITY THEREOF, TRAVELING TO OR THROUGH THE UNITED STATES, * * *.

SEE ALSO NOTE 15 OF SUPPLEMENT A OF THE CONSULAR REGULATIONS.

IN VIEW OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE STATUTE CITED ABOVE, AND THE FACTS APPEARING, THE AMERICAN CONSUL GENERAL AT LONDON MAY BE AUTHORIZED TO REFUND $10 TO MR. ROGERS UPON TAKING HIS RECEIPT THEREFOR IN FULL SETTLEMENT OF THE ERRONEOUS COLLECTION, SAID RECEIPT TO BE FILED WITH THE ACCOUNT IN WHICH CREDIT FOR THE REFUND IS CLAIMED. 8 COMP. GEN. 480, 15 ID. 481.