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Look out — here comes the fraud unit!

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By Attorney Gotcher

When a visa applicant applies for a visa with the consulate and they provide documentation and/or information that makes the visa officer suspicious, the officer will refer the matter to the Kentucky Consular Center’s Fraud  Unit. The Fraud Unit will attempt to contact the party in question to verify the information and then relay that response to the visa officer so that they can approve or deny the application. This process can take months and cause delays in the application process and often times, the applicant has no idea that this is happening.

Recently, visa officers in India have increased their use of the fraud unit as our clients have seen a substantial increase in the number of communications from the fraud unit where the fraud unit has tried to contact them or their clients. The most common occurrence is where the visa officer feels that the letter that was provided by the applicant at the interview is fraudulent and the visa officer will have the fraud unit follow up with the letter writer, whether that is the employer, a vendor or the end-client. The fraud unit will send an email or even call the writer and ask them to verify the contents of the letter. In the case of a client letter or vendor letter, the fraud unit will ask about their relationship with the petitioning company, whether they intend to utilize the applicant’s services, when they intend to utilize the applicant’s services, if the letter was on the company letterhead and whether the writer did in fact write the    letter. In the case of an employer, they will question whether the letter was written on company letterhead, whether the writer in fact wrote the letter and whether they intend to use the applicant’s services. Once the person responds to the fraud unit, it takes about two months to get a response from the consulate.

The problem we are seeing is that the fraud unit will more often than not send an e-mail to the author of the letter in question. Unless the person, who wrote the letter is expecting an e-mail from the fraud unit, they may miss the e-mail or their spam filter may grab it before they even see it. We have found that if there is no response provided, the project for that employer is blacklisted and every applicant that tries to apply for that same project/client will receive a denial on the spot. In order to avoid this, visa applicants and their employers must warn the person whose contact information is on the letter that they may receive an e-mail from the fraud unit and that they need to respond to it in a timely fashion. Where an applicant is given a 221g, they should immediately contact their employer and any other party for which they provided a letter on behalf of to the visa officer and request that they keep an eye out for any e-mails or calls. Further, we would suggest to provide that contact with another copy of the letter that they provided so that they have that when they respond to an inquiries since it may have been a few months since they last reviewed it.