23 April, 2024


WikiLeaks: Alternative Ways To Enter America – All Types Of Sri Lankan’s Visa And Passport Frauds

By Colombo Telegraph

“The Airline Liaison Officers  report that Sri Lanka’s poor airport controls are well known throughout the region; in addition to Sri Lankans, other nationalities such as Burmese, Chinese, Indians, Iranians, Pakistanis, Somalis, and Russians are increasingly taking advantage of the airport’s weaknesses.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

The Colombo Telegraph found the related cable from WikiLeaks database, which details the background of all types of Visa Frauds. The cable is signed by the Ambassador Patricia Butenis on November 18, 2009.

Ambassador Butenis wrote “Post has discovered evidence that relatively large numbers of Sri Lankans are entering the United States without inspection across the U.S.-Mexico border. This information has come to light from both IDENT hits showing arrests at the border and from information provided by the Canadian High Commission in Colombo about Sri Lankans making asylum claims at the U.S.-Canada border. One NIV applicant whose IDENT results showed he had been apprehended in Brownsville, Texas, told us that connections between Sri Lankan smugglers and Mexican coyotes are well established. In June 2008, the Canadian High Comission provided a list of more than 100 Sri Lankans who claimed asylum at the U.S.-Canada border who had no records in CCD, and we strongly suspect that all of them entered the U.S. without inspection from Mexico. Post expects this trend to accelerate as several South American countries have dropped visa requirements for Sri Lankans in recent years, making it even easier to reach Latin America and enter the smuggling pipeline. ”

Read the cable below for further details;

DE RUEHLM #1045/01 3220743
R 180743Z NOV 09



E.O. 12958: N/A


A.  Country Conditions

1.  Political insecurity and socioeconomic conditions put pressure
on Sri Lankans of all ages and societal classes to migrate legally
and illegally to the United States.  In May 2009, the Sri Lankan
government announced victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam (LTTE), an armed insurgent group, after more than 25 years of
civil conflict.  Despite the conclusion of formal hostilities, the
lengthy conflict has left lingering instability.  Severe lags in
socioeconomic development persist, particularly in the north and
east of the country.  Throughout the country, economic conditions
are relatively poor, with high inflation and weak government
spending on social services.  Large numbers of Sri Lankans
traditionally migrate for employment to the Middle East, Europe,
East Asia, and North America, through both legal and illegal means.
Early indications are that the global economic slowdown has
significantly impacted Sri Lankans working both domestically and

2.  The consular section sees medium to high levels of fraud from
all three major ethnic groups in Sri Lanka: Sinhalese, Tamil and
Muslim.  Many Muslims speak the Tamil language but do not identify
with ethnic Tamils and are considered a separate ethnic group.
Despite the country's relatively small population and lack of direct
flights to the U.S., Sri Lankans represent the fourth most
frequently offloaded nationality on U.S.-bound flights, according to
2008 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics. 

3.  The largest Sri Lankan diaspora community is in Toronto, Canada,
where over 250,000 people of Sri Lankan origin (primarily ethnic
Tamils) live.  Severe restrictions imposed by the Canadian
government on Sri Lankan visitor travel have resulted in many mala
fide travelers applying at Embassy Colombo hoping to reach Canada
over the land border.  Within the U.S., preferred destinations for
both legal and illegal immigrants are New York and California.
Human smugglers charge as much as $40,000 a person for passage from
Sri Lanka to North America. 

B.  Non-Immigrant Visa Fraud


4.  During the reporting period from March 1 to August 31, 2009,
officers referred 335 NIV cases to the Fraud Prevention Unit (FPU).
Of those, fraud was confirmed in 42 cases (12.5%) and 39 are still
pending further investigation.  During the same period in 2008, 240
cases were referred to FPU, with fraud confirmed in 13 cases

5.  Sri Lankan mala fide travelers with an ultimate destination in
North America typically have family or friends waiting with a job
and housing. A significant number of human smugglers and visa fraud
facilitators operate in Sri Lanka, charging as much as $10,000 for
false documentation to submit with a U.S. visa application, and up
to $25,000 for a "full service" of documents plus other 

COLOMBO 00001045  002 OF 009 

facilitation, such as by posing as family members or business
associates. Post has seen false family relationships; fictitious
marriages and divorces; false financial, employment and academic
documentation; ringers posing as members of sports and entertainment
groups; and false religious workers.  Post recently discovered that
a youth kung fu team traveling to a competition in Florida was
apparently a cover story for the president of the sporting
association to deliver the children to waiting relatives already
illegally in the United States. 

6.  Sri Lankans use a variety of techniques to fraudulently obtain
visas.  Small-time document vendors provide fake vital records and
business documents that are relatively easy to spot, while
sophisticated human smugglers provide convincing identity and
financial documents that are difficult to detect.  In several recent
cases, Sri Lankans have purchased backdated entry stamps at the
airport to hide overstays in the U.S. and elsewhere. 

7.  Post continues to see problems with seemingly non-qualified host
government officials and domestics applying for A and G visas.
Employers of Sri Lankan domestics, who include Middle Eastern,
African, and other Sri Lankan diplomats, typically provide only weak
or questionable evidence that domestics will be paid in accordance
with U.S. law.  In some cases, diplomats have tried a number of
tactics, ranging from claiming their domestics are actually
government employees eligible for A2 status, to claiming that they
are paid in cash, presumably to avoid paying U.S. minimum or
prevailing wages.  A number of Sri Lankans, in the U.S. both
illegally and legally, regularly adjust onto A visas by obtaining
low-level jobs at foreign embassies. Indications are that some of
these embassy jobs do not exist, and Post suspects active
facilitation on the part of certain missions, particularly African
and other Asian missions, as well as the Sri Lankan missions in
Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; and New York City. 


8.  H&L fraud continues to be a concern for Colombo.  During FY
2008, Post issued 172 H1B visas with a refusal rate of 8.5%.  In FY
2009, Post issued 190 H1B visas with a refusal rate of 32.4%.  This
represents cases in "221g" status for both further scrutiny and
recommendations for revocations sent to DHS.  Though the number of
visas issued has risen only slightly, Post has seen a sharp increase
in the number of mala fide applicants and employers in the H
category in particular.  Sri Lankans are increasingly becoming party
to the sophisticated IT-related schemes of their Indian neighbors
that target the H and L visa categories.  In addition, Post's field
verification efforts have identified a growing number of Sri Lankans
attempting to target the H1B category by posing as skilled
Montessori teachers.  Because nearly every daycare and preschool in
Sri Lanka calls itself as a "Montessori" school, false or inflated
work experience documents are readily available.  Post's field
verification visits have been particularly useful in uncovering this
type of fraud. 


9.  Post has seen a new trend of mala fide travelers increasingly
targeting the F and J visa categories.  During the first three 

COLOMBO 00001045  003 OF 009 

quarters of 2009, the refusal rate for F1 student visas grew to over
58%, as compared to 39% for the same period a year ago and 24% in
2007.  Although the total number of F1 student visa applications
rose by 46% from 2007 to 2008, the number of F1 applications
approved rose by only 11%.  This suggests that the majority of new
interest in student visas is coming from unqualified applicants.
Post's assessment is that many of these students have mala fide
immigrant intent, and we are in the final stages of conducting a
validation study of student visas. 

10.  Schools with relatively low admissions standards, including
community colleges and language schools, are preferred targets of
unqualified and mala fide Sri Lankan applicants.  The initial
results of a nearly completed validation study show the rate of
SEVIS non-compliance to be high for students issued visas for
two-year associate degree and standalone language programs.  Perhaps
in response to Post's increased scrutiny of such applicants, an
increasing number of students are applying to four-year colleges and
then transferring upon arrival to language schools, training
centers, or community colleges where less rigorously enforced
academic standards and attendance enable students to remain in legal
status while working full time.  Post regularly interviews returning
students who are clearly not enrolled full-time (based on their
transcripts), but schools nonetheless report them as being

11.  Otherwise-qualified Sri Lankan students also target schools
with generous work-study options.  Post recently learned that one
reputable Texas university long favored by Sri Lankan applicants
offers students the opportunity to earn academic credits while
working 40 hours a week over multiple semesters, with no requirement
that they attend any classes and very limited contact with academic

12.  Other Western missions in Colombo have shared similar concerns
regarding visa applications to their countries from Sri Lankan
students.  In September 2008, Australia upgraded Sri Lanka to its
strictest category for prospective students, highlighting Sri Lanka
as one of the worst violators of its student visa program.  In order
to qualify under the new conditions, prospective Sri Lankan
undergraduate students must show that they have had three full years
of tuition and living expenses on hand in an earmarked savings
account for at least six months before they can qualify for a visa.
Proceeds from land sales are a frequent source of funds students use
to cover tuition expenses, however, the Australian mission tells us
that about 90 percent of such sales have been found false.  We are
now finding that some applicants tell us during the interview that
they chose a U.S. school because they could not qualify for one in


13.  Post has also seen mala fide applicants increasingly targeting
the J1 visas, often with the involvement of local agents.  In one
case, an Israeli national B1/B2 visa holder with a business card
listing his U.S. residential address came to the Embassy to complain
after Post refused a large group of prospective Sri Lankan J1
hospitality industry workers he and a local agent were attempting to
assist.  Most of these J1 applicants, who earned an average of 

COLOMBO 00001045  004 OF 009 

$50/month in hotels and restaurants in Sri Lanka, had borrowed
thousands of dollars to pay for flights and the $1,000 agent fee, in
return for the promise of menial hospitality industry work in the
U.S. paying generous tips. 

14.  Post is currently conducting a validation study of U.S.
Government-sponsored exchange visitors and others who received A and
B referrals over the past year. 

C.  Immigrant Visa Fraud

15.  Colombo's IV fraud mostly involves false marriages and family
relationships. While marriages based on love affairs are increasing,
arranged marriages are still the norm in Sri Lanka, especially in
more rural areas.  Even with field visits, verifying the validity of
relationships is difficult. With re-marriages, Post regularly finds
that the divorce decree from the previous marriage is fraudulent; in
some cases, field visits have revealed "divorced" couples living
together in Sri Lanka despite one partner having supposedly
re-married an American citizen waiting in the U.S.  Although Post
returns problematic petitions to USCIS, the lack of consequences for
American citizens and LPRs filing fraudulent immigration petitions
complicates our work. 

D.  Diversity Visa Fraud

16.  The Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery remains a popular route for Sri
Lankans to migrate to the United States, with over 250 winners in
FY2010.  As Sri Lankans have discovered the DV Lottery, they are
also learning the rules and increasingly applying well-honed NIV
fraud techniques on behalf of DV winners, often through certificates
with falsified education examination results.  To counter this, Post
obtains examination results directly from the Sri Lankan Department
of Examinations.  This approach detected four fraud cases in the DV
2009 program, two of which were submitted in Colombo and two
elsewhere.  Because a significant number of Sri Lankan DV winners
are resident outside of the country, Colombo encourages other posts
to contact us to assist with verification of documents related to
Sri Lankan DV winners.  In FY2009, collaboration between Colombo and
posts in Australia and the Middle East led to the refusal of two Sri
Lankans with falsified examination results.  Post suspects that
additional Sri Lankan DV winners have taken advantage of the fact
that U.S. Embassies and Consulates elsewhere are unfamiliar with Sri
Lankan educational certificates. 

E.  ACS and U.S. Passport Fraud

17.  Although Post sees little fraud in passport and citizenship
applications, Canadian and British Airport Liaison Officers, who
assist Sri Lankan authorities in identifying mala-fide travelers at
the airport, occasionally ask for assistance in verifying suspect
U.S. passport and/or U.S. identity documents.  During 2009, Post had
one case of suspected fraud by a U.S. citizen of Sri Lankan origin 

COLOMBO 00001045  005 OF 009 

who attempted to obtain a Consular Report of Birth Abroad for a
child who she claimed to have left in the care of relatives in the
war-torn north of Sri Lanka for the past five years.  After Post
sought additional documentation, the woman abandoned the case. 

F.  Adoption Fraud

18.  The Immigrant Visa Unit issued two adoption visas during fiscal
year 2007 and 2008 and five in FY 2009.  The Sri Lankan government
does not favor foreign adoptions; adoptions are governed by the
Department of Child Care and Probation Service.  Foreign prospective
adoptive parents are not allowed to locate children for adoption
themselves, and adoption by single persons is not permitted.  To
date Post has not uncovered any fraud in our adoption visa
processing.  However, an LPR couple recently came to the Embassy
presenting a child as their natural born child. After checking, Post
confirmed that the child was actually adopted.  The LPR couple had
apparently obtained a genuine birth certificate for the child
through fraudulent means. Sri Lankan authorities are currently
investigating the case. 

G.  Use of DNA Testing

19.  In cases in which Post cannot sufficiently establish a bona
fide relationship due to a lack of evidence (mostly IV and asylum
cases), applicants are given the option of taking a DNA test. The
process takes about three weeks and costs approximately $1,000.
Post recently encountered its first negative DNA test for 2009, an
asylee follow-to-join child; however, upon further examination of
the case and consultation with CA, the child was still eligible for
the immigration benefit as a stepchild.  On occasion applicants
decline DNA testing and abandon their applications, suggesting that
testing acts as a deterrent in applications involving false

--------------------------------------------- ------
H.  Asylum and Other DHS Benefit Fraud
--------------------------------------------- ------ 

20.   Post would welcome the opportunity to work more closely with
DHS in looking at ways to make the processing and assessment of
asylum claims more robust.  There is a disturbingly high level of
fraud in Sri Lankan Visas 92 cases.  In most asylum follow-to-join
(FTJ) cases, establishing relationships to the petitioner is
difficult.  Asylum FTJ beneficiaries are typically coached to
provide as little information as possible, sometimes making it
difficult to determine whether the beneficiary even knows the
petitioner, much less is their spouse or child.  Post attempts to
verify all birth and marriage documents, but occasionally applicants
have no identity documents available.  In addition to the usual
problems associated with arranged marriages, we often see applicants
who present fraudulent identity documents but have positive DNA test
results, leaving us to deal with a genuine biological relationship
but no idea what anyone's true identity is. 

COLOMBO 00001045  006 OF 009 

21.  Of greatest concern is that the overwhelming majority of
successful asylum claims made by Sri Lankan petitioners appear to be
based on bogus persecution stories.   Although Post believes there
is persecution in Sri Lanka which is significant enough for
favorable asylum findings, in our experience the majority of
individuals who are experiencing true persecution within Sri Lanka
simply do not have the means to leave the country in the first
place.  In many cases, local government administrative structures
prevent persecuted minorities from obtaining valid international
travel documents; the alternative of using a human smuggler or
document vendor is incredibly expensive by Sri Lankan standards.  A
Sri Lankan who is able to make it to the U.S. or elsewhere to file
an asylum claim typically has significant financial and social
resources that are simply not consistent with their asylum claim.
For example, a large number of successful Sri Lankan gem merchants
with extensive U.S. and European travel to participate in
international gem exhibitions recently attempted to claim asylum in
Canada.  In another case, a well-off employee of Sri Lankan Airlines
admitted to us that he sent his wife and children to the U.S. to
make an asylum claim so that they would have a better standard of
living; he continues to work here, making regular trips back and
forth for the children's birthdays (although his tourist visa was
cancelled following this admission). 

22.  Other gross misstatements range from petitioners claiming to be
members of a persecuted ethnic minority when they are not of that
ethnicity, to stories of harassment that contradict known facts.
Unfortunately, the stories of prospective asylum claimants seem to
be taken at face value when asylum claims are adjudicated in the
United States.  Contributing to our doubts about many claims is the
fact that successful asylum claimants often later return to Sri
Lanka to wed other Sri Lankans or for regular tourist visits,
casting serious doubt on any "credible fear" claim.  We also often
see asylee claimants who have spent many months living in
otherwise-safe second countries such as Canada, East Asia or the
Middle East before deciding to make their claim in the U.S., where
they felt economic opportunities would be greatest. 

--------------------------------------------- ---------
I.  Alien Smuggling, Trafficking, Organized Crime, Terrorist Travel
--------------------------------------------- --------- 

23.  The trend of increased numbers of Sri Lankans and other
third-country nationals, such as Indians and Chinese, using
fraudulent or altered documents for travel to Europe and North
America continues.  Sri Lankan nationals mostly target travel
documents of countries like Malaysia, Singapore, U.K., Germany and
Caribbean countries.   The number of Sri Lankan deportees from
Malaysia, Japan, Singapore and the UAE has increased significantly,
and irregular Malaysian travel documents have become the preferred
documents of mala fide Sri Lankan passengers, while their hub port
has shifted from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur.  Human smugglers charge as
much as $40,000 a person for passage from Sri Lanka to North

J.  DS Criminal Fraud Investigations

COLOMBO 00001045  007 OF 009 

24.  Post does not have an ARSO-I.  However, consular officers often
consult the RSO FSN Investigator during the course of routine
investigations on visa cases, a partnership which has proven
fruitful in dealing with Sri Lankan law enforcement authorities. 

--------------------------------------------- ---------
K.  Host Country Passport, Identity Documents, and Civil Registry
--------------------------------------------- --------- 

25.   Fraudulent civil documentation is common in Sri Lanka and can
be easily acquired, including falsified passports, identity
documents, court records, and entry/exit stamps.  Civil registry
functions are relatively inefficient due to a lack of automation;
all documents are kept on file in countless stacks of paper that
must be hand-checked and are often missing or incomplete.  Because
document fraud is rampant, document verification is a routine part
of IV, DV and asylee follow-to-join petition processing.  A staff
member must physically go to the Registrar's office to check
documents, making the verification time consuming.  Other Western
missions in Sri Lanka require petitioners in suspect cases to pay a
$500-$1,000 "verification fee," then contract with local agents to
conduct the legwork. 

--------------------------------------------- ---------
L.  Cooperation with Host Government Authorities
--------------------------------------------- --------- 

26.  Post enjoys a high level of cooperation with many Sri Lankan
government agencies.  Post receives positive assistance on matters
ranging from simple document verification to complex cooperation on
fraud cases over long periods.  Good relationships are maintained
through regular outreach and meetings with key officials.
Additionally, Post's full-time FSN fraud investigator's excellent
range of contacts has proven invaluable in advancing our fraud
management goals.  Cooperation with local law enforcement has proved
essential in maintaining Post's successful zero-tolerance policy
towards false and fraudulent documentation.  Nearly all applicants
turned over to Sri Lankan authorities are charged and prosecuted
under Sri Lankan law.  Post regularly works together with the
Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and its Anti-Human Smuggling
Investigation Bureau, as well as the Colombo Fraud Investigation
Bureau (CFIB).  Furthermore, Post cooperates with the Immigration &
Emigration Department, State Intelligence Service, the Registrar
General's Department, and the Attorney General's Department. 

27.  Post has implemented an arrest program in cooperation with
local immigration authorities and police.  When Post encounters
forged documents in the course of an NIV interview, we contact the
Criminal Investigation Department (CID) or the Colombo Fraud
Investigations Department (CFIB) of the Sri Lanka Police, and
applicants are taken into custody, often on the same day as the visa
interview.  Most are convicted of felony crimes under Sri Lankan
law.  This policy, and the arrests it generates, has proven
effective in combating prospective fraudsters.  The program was
introduced in late 2002, and the number of arrests peaked with 84 in
2004.  Ten were arrested in 2008, and 13 have been arrested thus far
in 2009.  Other Western missions without similar programs report
that they see a much higher level of document fraud, demonstrating
that this program is a clear deterrent. 

COLOMBO 00001045  008 OF 009 

28.  Though Post sees fraud in its IV/DV cases, it typically does
not rise to the level of an arrestable offense under Sri Lankan law.
 Instead, these cases are simply sent back for revocation.  However,
in early 2009, a Diversity Visa applicant was arrested with
fraudulent documents, Post's first DV arrest in over five years. 

29.  If an applicant submits a forged document as part of their
application, they are charged with tendering or forging a fraudulent
document under the Sri Lankan Penal Code.  The maximum sentence
varies by type of fraud committed, but the penalties are all
potentially severe.  However, recent amendments to Sri Lankan law
have relaxed bail provisions.  Most offenders can now post bail
immediately after appearing before the court, whereas in the past
offenders were required to spend from a few weeks to several months
in remand prison before being allowed to post bail.  Local law
enforcement authorities tell us that passport and visa fraud have
increased as result, and they expect such trends to further

M.  Areas of Particular Concern

30.  Post enjoys positive and consistent collaboration with other
Embassies, particularly the Canadian and British High Commissions.
Canada has the largest Sri Lankan diaspora in world, and our close
cooperation with the Canadian and British Airline Liaison Officers
(ALOs) has proven effective in spotting trends and mala-fide
applicants.  Further, our three missions continue to co-host airline
and airport staff training seminars on our countries' proper travel
documents, their basic security features, and applicable visa

31.  From our close collaboration with the Canadian and British
ALOs, Post is aware of major security concerns at Sri Lanka's single
international airport, Bandaranaiyke International Airport, located
near the capital, Colombo.  The ALOs tell us that, despite extensive
and repeated training, check-in staff and immigration authorities
regularly accept obvious forgeries and fraudulent documents.  Many
airline staff at document checkpoints are temporary workers who have
little incentive to good a job or be loyal to the airline.
Practically no screening is conducted of travelers with non-Sri
Lankan passports; instead, airline staff assume that a final
decision will be taken by other airline staff in the hub city once
the passengers reach their transit point.  Passengers who have
checked in and gone through immigration regularly disappear once
they see that an ALO is on duty at their gate; somehow, they are
secreted out through three layers of airport security.  Often these
passengers return to make successful attempts a few days later when
no ALO is on duty.  Although the airport has multiple closed circuit
television (CCTV) systems, the CCTV systems are often turned off or
critical segments unavailable (erased) when requested.  A lack of
separation between arriving and departing passengers makes boarding
card and identity document swaps simple.  The ALOs report that Sri
Lanka's poor airport controls are well known throughout the region;
in addition to Sri Lankans, other nationalities such as Burmese,
Chinese, Indians, Iranians, Pakistanis, Somalis, and Russians are
increasingly taking advantage of the airport's weaknesses. 

COLOMBO 00001045  009 OF 009 

32.  Post has discovered evidence that relatively large numbers of
Sri Lankans are entering the United States without inspection across
the U.S.-Mexico border.  This information has come to light from
both IDENT hits showing arrests at the border and from information
provided by the Canadian High Commission in Colombo about Sri
Lankans making asylum claims at the U.S.-Canada border.  One NIV
applicant whose IDENT results showed he had been apprehended in
Brownsville, Texas, told us that connections between Sri Lankan
smugglers and Mexican coyotes are well established.  In June 2008,
the Canadian High Comission provided a list of more than 100 Sri
Lankans who claimed asylum at the U.S.-Canada border who had no
records in CCD, and we strongly suspect that all of them entered the
U.S. without inspection from Mexico.  Post expects this trend to
accelerate as several South American countries have dropped visa
requirements for Sri Lankans in recent years, making it even easier
to reach Latin America and enter the smuggling pipeline. 

N.  Staffing and Training

33.  Colombo's Fraud Prevention Unit (FPU) consists of one part-time
officer Fraud Prevention Manager (FPM), and one full-time Fraud
Prevention Foreign Service National (FSN) investigator.  During
FY2010, Post will hire a new H&L anti-fraud clerk.  All three
American officers have completed PC-541, Fraud Prevention for
Consular Managers. 

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    hi nice

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