Viewing cable 04VILNIUS1532

04VILNIUS15322004-12-20 10:39:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A 
REF(S): State 227856 
¶1.  Post submits the following consular package 
narrative keyed to reftel. 
A) Consular Section Chief: Ruta D. Elvikis (Consul), 
ETD: July 2005, Direct Office Telephone Number: 370- 
5-266-5591, E-mail:; 
Deputy Consular Section Chief: Gregory L. Bernsteen 
(Vice-Consul), ETD: February 2005, Direct Office 
Telephone Number: 370-5-266-5605, E-mail:; 
Vice Consul: Timothy E. Liston 
ETD: January 2005, Direct Office Telephone Number: 370- 
5-266-5592, E-mail: 
Consular Section Fax Number: 370-5-266-5590.  IVG 
(tie line) code: 973. 
B) Do you have sufficient staff to meet consular MPP 
objectives?  (If you believe you do not, describe 
steps you have taken to maximize staff efficiency. 
Note any special circumstances at your post that 
hinder productivity.  Specify the number, type, and 
grade of personnel you would need in order to fully 
meet MPP objectives). Add any comments you might 
have on the effectiveness of training of new 
personnel (such as Congen, FSI language training, 
Response:  Post at this time has adequate staff to do 
consular work in accordance with MPP objectives and 
current consular regulations and procedures.  Post's Vice- 
Consuls are currently able to handle all NIV interviews. 
Meeting consular MPP objectives will be a challenge over 
the next three months, however, as we face the extended 
absence of the Consul from January 1 through April 1, 
early departure at the end of January of one Vice Consul 
not to be replaced until March 1, and rotation of our 
second Vice Consul in mid-February.  Promised TDY 
assistance from the Department will help us bridge this 
gap.  The most challenging month will be in March, when 
we begin processing our large Work and Travel program 
(see description below), which will require the 
processing of more than 3000 visas between March and 
June.  In addition, post's Consular Associate departed 
post at the end of July 2004 and has yet to be replaced 
pending budget approval.  A CA would help the section 
fulfill MPP objectives, such as assisting American 
citizens, as the Section's Vice-Consuls focus on 
processing Work and Travel visas. 
Post is experiencing an increase in the number of 
Americans traveling to and residing in Lithuania.  Our 
back-up ACS assistant is more often required to assist 
the full-time assistant with our increasing ACS workload. 
As such, we are considering re-designating the back-up 
ACS assistant as a half-time ACS assistant, while 
considering the need for an additional position in ACS to 
allow better service for the growing American community 
in Lithuania.  This staffing change in ACS would assist 
post in meeting its MPP goals. 
Regarding training, Congen has traditionally offered 
new consular officers a solid foundation in consular 
work.  However, rapid changes in regulations and 
procedures are a challenge for all consular section 
staff.  Consular officers in the field would greatly 
benefit from additional training, even if only online, in 
SAO processing requirements and working with the TAL. 
Given the many changes in consular work, post would also 
recommend some sort of refresher training for all 
consular officers between overseas assignments. 
Post would further recommend that JO's assigned to 
Vilnius receive 30 weeks of language rather than 24. 
Solid knowledge of Lithuanian is absolutely necessary at 
the visa window and, despite the excellent FSI Lithuanian 
language program, 24 weeks is sometimes not enough time 
to get a good grasp on the complexities of this extremely 
difficult language. 
C) Do you have sufficient space to meet consular MPP 
objectives? (If you believe you do not, describe the 
nature of the space limitations.  Note steps post 
has taken to address these limitations, including 
development of design proposals, allocation of post 
funds, requests for OBO or CA funding, etc.) 
Response: The Consular Section is adequate for the 
current level of staffing.  The greatest difficulty for 
consular operations is that the Vice-Consuls do not have 
office space in the Consular Section, physically 
isolating them from daily operations during non-interview 
hours.  Their offices are located down the hall from the 
Consular Section in the Chancery.  Space will become more 
of an issue with the Section's move into temporary swing 
space sometime in FY2006 for the duration of the Chancery 
expansion project.  The swing space is slightly smaller 
than the Section's current space, resulting in a smaller 
waiting area, loss of one interview window, loss of a 
privacy booth, and less space for storage of consular 
files.  Current estimates have the Consular Section 
located in this swing space for approximately a year. 
D) Describe any management practices (such as off- 
site fee collection, use of a user pays call center, 
courier passback, post hosted web appointment system, 
business programs) that post has instituted in the past 
year.  Are these management practices effective?  Also 
please list any management practices that have been 
discontinued in the past year, citing reasons for the 
Response: N/A. 
E) Please advise whether and why post might benefit 
from a Consular Management Assistance Team (CMAT) 
visit.  If a CMAT visited your post over the past year, 
please summarize any benefits and what steps, if any, 
could be taken to further enhance the productivity of 
CMAT visits. 
Response: Post is fortunate to have available the 
guidance of an experienced RCO, who, in her most 
recent visit, offered many of the same benefits as a 
CMAT.  Consequently, while we would welcome the 
visit of a CMAT, we do not believe that post should 
be considered a priority at this time. 
F) Do you have the equipment you need to meet 
consular MPP objectives?  (If you believe you do 
not, describe the equipment you need and efforts you 
have made to obtain it.) 
Response: At this time, post has the equipment it 
G) How would you rate your consular section's 
satisfaction with the automated consular systems 
(excellent, good, average, poor)?  Are there any 
unresolved software or hardware issues?  How do you 
rate the training of post personnel both within the 
consular section and in Management/IM on the use and 
support of Consular systems (excellent, good, 
average, poor)?  What types of assistance would you 
need from the next training and refresher teams 
coming from the consular systems division to assist 
consular system users?  Please also comment on the 
quality of assistance provided by the CA Overseas 
Help Desk. 
Response:  We rate the ACS system as poor.  The 
warden information is unwieldy and impractical to 
use for notifications, particularly with the advent 
of alternative methods of notification such as 
email.  This is made even more complicated by the fact 
that IBRS does not interface with the warden database in 
ACS and vice versa.  Consular Section staff generally 
rate NIV as good and user-friendly.  We like the new SAO 
capability and look forward to the day when it is 
entirely electronic. 
An Orkand team was here in August for biometric 
installation as well as refresher training.  In addition 
to providing excellent training on all the various 
consular systems and biometric collection, the team 
provided invaluable support for our public relations 
campaign to roll out the new program.  Thanks to its 
help, which included participating in press interviews 
about the equipment and setting up a demonstration 
workstation for the press, post's rollout was a 
tremendous success.  The Consular Section is generally 
satisfied with the support received from Management/IM 
but wishes that that office had more time to devote to 
consular systems issues.  Due to other demands on IM's 
time, the Consular Section has had to wait a week or more 
for installation of new software or hardware. 
We are pleased that a member of post's IM staff was able 
to receive formal training on consular systems.  We are 
also satisfied with the support we have received from the 
CA Overseas Help Desk.  Its replies have been timely and 
useful.  We particularly appreciated their most recent 
assistance in quickly adding NATO visas to our NIV visa 
table in time for Lithuania's first NATO staff member to 
travel to the United States. 
H) Some posts have recently begun scanning 2-D 
barcodes to input DS-156 information into consular 
systems.  Please comment on other forms you would like to 
see automated and explain why. 
Response: No comment at this time. 
I) What aspects of your ACS work are the most 
Response: As more Americans choose to travel to or reside 
in Lithuania, post's ACS workload, from routine notarials 
to jail visits, continues to increase.  Our full-time ACS 
assistant increasingly requires the help of our back-up 
ACS assistant just to handle our day-to-day workload. 
Another challenging aspect of our ACS work is Federal 
Benefits.  In FY2004, we finally received permission from 
SSA to re-enroll non-U.S. citizen beneficiaries based on 
an exchange of notes with the GOL in early 2003.  It took 
substantial time to locate surviving eligible 
beneficiaries and process their paperwork.  Embassy 
Warsaw provided invaluable assistance in facilitating 
their re-enrollment, enabling payment of benefits to 
begin promptly.  Although the total number of new 
beneficiaries was relatively small, it did add to our FBU 
workload, which is already significant and continues to 
grow, due largely to the number of Lithuanian-Americans 
who return to Lithuania as a way to stretch their pension 
dollars.  The conference for FBU FSNs held last year in 
Warsaw provided great training for our FBU assistant.  We 
hope it was the first of many more such regional FBU 
K) What aspects of your NIV work are the most 
Response: The decline in post's NIV applications seems to 
have finally leveled off.  Despite the relatively low 
number of total applications compared to our peak in 
2000, post's NIV workload remains high.  Lithuanians 
continue to look to the United States for illegal work 
even after Lithuanian accession into the EU (see Vilnius 
01493).  Unfortunately, Lithuania's EU accession has made 
it more difficult for us to ascertain a visa applicant's 
periods of stay in the United States as border officials 
no longer stamp the passports of returning Lithuanians. 
As we still do not have access to DHS entry/exit records, 
Lithuanian entry stamps were our only sure means of 
detecting repeated six-month stays, which often is a sign 
of illegal employment in the United States. 
We also continue to see a great deal of fraud, including 
forged Burroughs and Teslin foil visas and imposter 
travelers.  There are a number of ongoing investigations 
in Lithuania's second city of Kaunas involving fraudulent 
documents and imposter passports and visas, with links to 
counterfeit currency.  We work closely with RSO and local 
authorities on these investigations.  The level and 
increasing sophistication of fraud continues to be the 
most demanding aspect of NIV work in Lithuania.  We are 
continually frustrated that these same rings after their 
arrests are quickly back in business in some modified 
form.  The increased time spent in interviewing to screen 
for fraud, new processing requirements, and the increase 
in the number of applicants seen at post who were 
either refused change of status by DHS, turned around or 
deported due to prior violations, or who have serious 
hits in CLASS have increased not only the complexity of 
the visa process but also the overall time necessary to 
handle post's relatively small NIV workload. 
Another demanding aspect of NIV work at post is the 
Work and Travel program.  Lithuania has one of the 
largest per capita participation rates in Eastern 
Europe.  Post processed 2,100 Work and Travel visas 
in FY2004, approximately 27 percent of all visas 
issued by post in that year.  This is a decrease from 
last year's totals, due to competition from programs in 
the U.K.  Organizers are hoping to submit at least as 
many Work and Travel applicants in 2005.  As these visas 
are all processed over a short period of time (from 
March to June), this places a great strain on every 
aspect of NIV processing at post.  The perennial demands 
on Section resources of universal interviewing, fraud 
screening, and the risk of printer failure are joined 
this year by the challenges posed by the planned absence 
of the Consul and the timing of the Vice-Consuls' 
rotations.  Post has developed strategies to handle the 
anticipated challenges. 
M) Please comment on the impact that the fingerprinting 
requirement has had on consular space, processing time, 
and relations with your host country. 
Response: Post only began fingerprinting on August 23, 
¶2004.  Our limited experience with fingerprinting has 
been positive.  We had anticipated a negative backlash 
from the Lithuanian public based on local media reaction 
in the early days of the program.  With the cooperation 
of post's PD section, Front Office, the Orkand 
installation team (as noted above), and some good local 
contacts, we had a successful media event for the 
biometric rollout.  During that event, four "Famous 
Fingers" demonstrated the fingerprinting procedure, and 
the Deputy Director of the Lithuanian Consular Department 
explained the future of biometrics.  The campaign 
succeeded, as the transition to fingerprinting went 
without a hitch.  A number of Lithuanians holding valid 
visas even called the Embassy to ask if they could have 
their fingers scanned anyway. 
From the workload perspective, the switch to 
fingerprinting has had little impact on our operations. 
We have only occasionally experienced long delays with 
IDENT returns, but never so long as to disrupt our 
workflow.  There has been no real impact on consular 
N) What aspects of your IV work are the most 
demanding? (Discussion should address any backlogs 
and their causes). 
Response: Though Vilnius does not process immigrant 
visas, we accept petitions for immediate relatives, 
usually marriage or fiance petitions.  The number of 
petitions we received has doubled in the last year.  We 
continue to see cases of suspected marriage fraud. 
Approximately 10 percent of the petitions received at 
post in FY2004 were not clearly approvable.  The decline 
in fraudulent marriages seen at post is most likely a 
benefit of EU accession, with young Lithuanian women, the 
usual participant in such schemes, now looking for 
opportunities in Europe rather than in the United States. 
O) If applicable, please describe the impact of the 
DV program on your workload. 
Response: Lithuanians are very interested in the DV 
program, and every year the consular section receives 
a large number of inquiries about the process.  The 
availability of information on the Internet and through 
our pre-recorded phone message has reduced the number of 
phone and written inquiries to post about the program. 
We are affected by the program in two ways.  First, we 
continue to receive a large number of press inquiries 
every year; second, we receive many requests from Embassy 
Warsaw, our regional DV processing post, for assistance 
in conducting fraud checks of Lithuanian documentation, 
in particular fraudulent diplomas, submitted in support 
of DV applications.  The resources necessary to assist 
Warsaw with these checks place an additional burden on 
our fraud unit. 
P) What percentage of your NIV and IV applicants are 
third country nationals (TCN)? From what countries are 
they? Do they speak a different language than post's 
designated language?  If so, how do you communicate with 
Response: Only seven percent of NIV applications at post 
are non-Lithuanian citizens.  The vast majority of these 
are citizens of Russia, mostly seamen from the 
Kaliningrad region.  While many speak at least some 
English, about half speak only Russian.  Almost the 
entire FSN staff speaks fluent Russian, and those not 
fluent are at least proficient.  They interpret for the 
interviewing officers as needed. 
Q) Discuss how your post has been affected by the 
Overseas Photodigitized Passports program (OPDP) deployed 
in 2003.  Please note any major adjustments you have had 
to make to workflow or staffing.  Has the number of 
emergency passports issued at post decreased?  If so, by 
how much? 
Response: Post continues to be pleased with the 
improvement of service following implementation of OPDP. 
Customers are especially appreciative of this improvement 
in service.  This faster turnaround has resulted in a 
decrease in the already small number of emergency 
passports post issues, down more than half from FY2003. 
Fraud Prevention: 
R) Briefly summarize the types of fraud most frequently 
encountered at post and programs in place to combat that 
fraud, including use of investigation resources, tracking 
systems, electronic tools, liaison and information 
sharing.  If post has conducted a validation study, what 
was learned from it?  Are you satisfied with the level of 
fraud prevention training for officers and FSNs?  If not, 
what do you believe you need to support your efforts in 
this area?  Do you conduct in-house fraud training for 
non-Embassy consular contacts?  If so, who is the 
targeted audience and how often is it done?  Do local 
authorities effectively prosecute document vendors and 
Response: Visa fraud in Lithuania has changed 
markedly in the last few years.  Fraudulent job letters 
and bank letters are increasingly rare. As we improved 
our detection of these documents with access to the 
Lithuanian Social Insurance Agency's (SoDra) database to 
confirm income declarations and use of the InfoBankas 
corporate record database, mala fide applicants have 
turned to other, more sophisticated techniques.  We 
continue to receive reports of fake Burroughs and Teslin 
MRV visas.  While the number of interception reports from 
airport officials has decreased, this may indicate that 
the quality of false documents has improved.  We are also 
receiving reports of Lithuanians seeking entry into the 
U.S. on imposter or photo-subbed passports.  This is 
especially difficult for Lithuanian authorities to 
address as the aliens, having used their real passport 
for departure, have broken no laws in Lithuania.  Local 
authorities recently located and shut down a visa 
"facilitator" who had a binder full of hundreds of photos 
from legitimate travel documents with valid U.S. visas 
from which travelers could select the best likeness. 
Post is working closely with investigators to identify 
those to whom the travel documents were originally issued 
as well as those who may have fraudulently used them. 
The investigation may take years but prosecutors are not 
optimistic that the document purveyors will actually do 
jail time. 
The Lithuanian Border Police are very helpful in our 
fraud efforts, but the information and assistance 
provided by the Criminal Police is not very specific 
nor responsive to post's concerns.  Post continues to 
work to strengthen its relationships with local law 
enforcement authorities.  We continue to work closely 
with RSO to further improve information sharing with 
local authorities.  DHS Copenhagen has been of great 
assistance in a number of investigations, running checks 
through its systems in addition to sharing their 
The results of post's last B1/B2 validation study, 
completed in early 2004, showed definite improvement from 
the previous year's study with a 57 percent return rate. 
Most unusual in this year's study was the significant 
number of visa holders (23 percent) who had not yet used 
their visas.  One possible explanation is that many 
applicants obtained U.S. visas on the eve of Lithuania's 
EU accession "just in case."  Some Lithuanians were 
nervous about the effect accession would have on the 
local economy and, for all the promise of opportunities 
for legal work within the EU, others continue to look to 
the United States for work opportunities, legal or 
otherwise.  More than six months since Lithuania's EU 
accession, we still see just as many potential economic 
migrants despite the possibility for legal work 
Post's fraud prevention staff currently consists of one 
full-time Anti-Fraud investigator and is managed by the 
Consul.  Our part-time fraud assistant is currently 
acting as our full-time Anti-Fraud investigator during 
the investigator's extended leave.  She is assisted in 
anti-fraud efforts and investigations by all Section 
staff as necessary.  Neither she nor any of the American 
officers currently at post have had specific anti-fraud 
training.  The opportunity for both our local and 
American staff to obtain such training would no doubt 
enhance our anti-fraud efforts.  Despite the expertise of 
our AFI and extensive fraud files, we still too often 
find ourselves ill-equipped to investigate large, and 
increasingly sophisticated, organized fraud rings.  Post 
has developed a fraud database that will assist us in 
identifying commonalities, analyzing trends, and in 
detecting organized fraud.  The ability to access 
immigration systems such as NIIS and NAILS ourselves 
would greatly strengthen our efforts.  Post would also 
like increased opportunities to attend regional fraud 
conferences and to see more sharing of regional fraud 
We had not felt the need to conduct in-house training for 
our local contacts, as they continue to demonstrate an 
aptitude for detecting fraudulent documents, thanks in 
large part to excellent training provided by DHS 
Copenhagen in the last two years.  We do, however, 
provide informal orientations on U.S. documents for our 
Consular colleagues.  As it has been several years, 
though, the Consular Section and RSO would like to bring 
DHS here for another round of training with the 
Lithuanian Border Guard, as well as prosecutors and the 
Consular Department, who were not included in prior 
training sessions. 
S) Describe country conditions that affect your ability 
to provide consular services (infrastructure, fraud, 
political setting, etc.). 
Response: Since Lithuania regained its independence 
in 1991, over 500,000 Lithuanians have reportedly 
left the country, many of them to the United States 
where a sizeable Lithuanian community already exists. 
The Lithuanian government does little to discourage this 
exodus, as many politicians are convinced that the 
majority of Lithuanians will eventually return, better 
and richer for their time spent overseas.  While the 
Lithuanian economy continues to grow rapidly, not all 
groups benefit equally from the growth.  This factor, and 
the fact that most young Lithuanians desire to work 
abroad despite their country's excellent growth 
prospects, contribute to continuing emigration.  These 
factors will continue to drive post's NIV work, and 
refusal rate, in the future.  Immigration to Lithuania 
from both the EU and non-EU world, for both legitimate 
and illegitimate reasons, will continue to increase. 
Significant numbers of illegal aliens continue to be 
apprehended at the Lithuanian-Belarusian border and in 
the port of Klaipeda.  The influx of non-Lithuanians has 
already led to a small increase in the number of TCN 
applicants seen at post.  This number will most likely 
increase further over the next few years and will 
require greater vigilance in the screening of NIV 
Integration has already increased emigration from 
Lithuania to Western Europe, as Lithuanians seek 
opportunities for legal foreign employment, though this 
has not diminished the demand for visas to the United 
States.  Despite Lithuania's membership in the EU, we 
have not yet seen the quality of visa cases improve, as 
economic growth continues to leave certain sectors of 
society behind. 
Now that Lithuania is officially part of Europe, but with 
a cost of living still far below its Western neighbors, 
tourism will continue to increase.  More American 
visitors, coupled with a likely increase in the number of 
people who choose to settle in Lithuania, will further 
increase the demand for section services. 
T) Describe any other issue not raised in the 
preceding questions that you believe to be 
significant to the consular section's effectiveness 
in handling its responsibilities. 
Response: Post is planning for a major physical expansion 
of the Chancery with construction scheduled to begin in 
FY2006.  The Consular Section will continue to work with 
other elements of the Mission to ensure that our space 
concerns are considered in the final plans.  Two 
additional stories will be constructed above the current 
Consular Section.  During that construction, the Consular 
Section will be moved into swing space in another 
building.  The space is slightly smaller than our current 
quarters.  While OBO has been working with the Consular 
Section to meet our needs, this temporary inconvenience 
will pose challenges for the Consular Section, which we 
are confident we will manage successfully.