In February 2004, GAO reported that improvements were needed in the time taken to adjudicate visas for science students and scholars. Specifically, a primary tool used to screen these applicants for visas (the Visas Mantis program) was operating inefficiently. We found that it took an average of 67 days to process Mantis checks, and many cases were pending for 60 days or more. GAO also found that the way in which information was shared among agencies prevented cases from being resolved expeditiously. Finally, consular officers lacked sufficient program guidance. This report discusses the time to process Mantis checks and assesses actions taken and timeframes for improving the Mantis program.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of State||In order to further streamline the Visas Mantis process, the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security, should, in order to eliminate use for the cabling system in the Mantis process, establish milestones for fully connecting all necessary U.S. agencies and bureaus to the computer system used to track and process Mantis cases.|
|Department of State||In order to further streamline the Visas Mantis process, the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security, should provide more opportunities for consular officers at key Mantis consular posts to receive guidance and feedback on the Visas Mantis program through direct interaction with agency officials knowledgeable about the program. These opportunities could include, among other initiatives, mandatory one-on-one meetings with officials from the Bureaus of Consular Affairs and Nonproliferation for new consular officers before they travel to post; additional visits by State officials to consular conferences; and more frequent videoteleconferences with posts that submit large numbers of Mantis requests.|