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Part II: Strategy for Overcoming “Dual-Use” Technology Concerns at the U.S. Consulate

To read Part I of this article, which offers an in-depth discussion of Visa Mantis Security Advisory Opinions, click here.

The best strategy is to put forth sufficient evidence that the applicant clearly does not post a dual-use technology concern. In addition, since public information is not controlled by the U.S. government, it is beneficiary to prove that the information obtained by the applicant is widely available to the public and/or presented in an academic course. Being prepared for the interview is another way to reduce the chances of raising suspicion of a security-related threat. The CO will ask the applicant several questions in order to determine if he or she poses a dual-technology security concern.

Applicants should be prepared to answer questions about their academic background. For instance, applicants should be able to state and describe what branch of study they completed and why they chose that course of study. In addition, applicants should be able to describe how they use your education in their occupations, past and present. Lastly, applicants should be able to discuss (in lay terms) their theses and any other publications in such a way that dispels the concern that the information may be used for military purposes.

Applicants should also be prepared to answer questions about their employment background, including the address and phone number of their current employer. Applicants should also be able to thoroughly describe their duties and any projects that are being undertaken.

The CO will also ask applicants about their travel plans. Hence, applicants should be able to provide the information for a point of contact in the United States and answer who is funding the travel and stay in the United States. They should also be prepared to provide a rough itinerary of activities that will be undertaken while in the United States.

Finally, COs will likely ask about applicants’ plans after they leave the United States. As such, applicants should be able to state any countries to which they plan to travel. Greater scrutiny will be applied to applicants who will be going to a nation listed on the Sponsors of Terrorism List. Applicants should be prepared to discuss how they will use the goods or knowledge obtained in the United States and discuss all countries that will receive the information.

During the interview, it is important to keep in mind that Consular Officers likely do not have a background in science or technology. Thus, applicants should endeavor to discuss and describe their field of expertise and its applications and uses in lay terms.

In order to support statements made during the interview, applicants should provide documentation. Such documentation should include:

  • A letter from the employer, detailing (in lay terms) the nature of the work and specific job duties, project descriptions, meetings/presentations and information distinguishing how the work has no possible military applications;
  • Complete resumes and lists of publications;
  • Abstracts of papers and published materials;
  • Recommendation letters from U.S. sources;
  • Documentation to show that the information is in the public domain;
  • Documentation to show that the information is found in academic courses (i.e. academic transcripts and course descriptions);
  • Documentation to show that the Department of Commerce determined that the technology involved is not a “sensitive” technology and an export license is not require; and
  • If applicable, final court dispositions, arrest records, and legal briefs.

It has been reported in various publications that because there is a lack of guidance to COs on how to handle cases involving one of the critical fields listed on the TAL, COs usually make a Visa Mantis SAO request for nearly all cases. Thus, while the strategies outlined above include a comprehensive plan for how to overcome security-related concerns, there is a strong possibility that an SAO request will be made in most cases. That being said, providing all of the necessary evidence along with providing well-planned answers will hopefully expedite the process.

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Are you concerned a Visa Mantis Security Advisory Opinion may be required in your case? Our experienced attorneys can help you prepare for your consular visit. Contact us today to learn how we can help you at your next consular processing.

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