Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 03093012 (posted Sep. 30, 2003)"
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
September 29, 2003
U.S. Departments of State, Homeland Security Reach Agreement on Visa
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom
Ridge have signed a Memorandum
of Understanding signaling their commitment to work cooperatively to create
and maintain an effective, efficient visa process that safeguards the United
States. The document describes the respective roles and responsibilities of the
Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security in order to secure
America's borders from external threats while ensuring that these borders remain
open to legitimate travel and commerce.
This change was called for in section 428 of the Homeland Security Act of
2002, and will take effect with the publication of the Memorandum of
Understanding in the Federal Register. The document was developed through a
cooperative interagency process, and ensures that a cooperative and consultative
process is in place for visa adjudication and issuance.
Under this agreement, the State Department will continue to manage the visa
process and the foreign policy of the United States. The Department of Homeland
Security will establish and review visa policy and ensure that homeland security
requirements are fully reflected in the visa process.
Department of Homeland Security officers are already stationed in the Kingdom
of Saudi Arabia, as required by the Homeland Security Act. At the discretion of
Secretary Ridge, additional Department of Homeland Security officers will be
posted overseas at U.S. Embassies and Consulates to perform functions specified
in the Memorandum of Understanding. The Department of Homeland Security, working
in consultation with the Department of State, will identify these locations.
As Department of State employees, consular officers and staff who currently
work on visa matters will continue to receive direction from the Secretary of
State. Consular officers will retain the responsibility for visa adjudication
Department of Homeland Security officers assigned overseas will provide
expert advice to consular officers regarding security threats relating to the
adjudication of visa applications or classes of applications, review visa
applications, and conduct investigations involving visa matters in accordance
with the Memorandum of Understanding.
The Department of Homeland Security will have final decision-making
responsibilities over policy areas that include classification, admissibility
and documentation; place of visa application; discontinuing granting visas to
nationals of a country not accepting aliens; personal appearance; visa validity
periods and multiple entry visas; the Visa Waiver Program; notices of visa
denials; and processing of persons from state sponsors of terrorism.