226159 9/21/2009 14:02 09CHISINAU721 Embassy Chisinau UNCLASSIFIED 07BUCHAREST1336 VZCZCXRO0513 RR RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHSK RUEHVK RUEHYG DE RUEHCH #0721/01 2641402 ZNR UUUUU ZZH R 211402Z SEP 09 FM AMEMBASSY CHISINAU TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8386 INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE RUEHFT/AMCONSUL FRANKFURT 1950 RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST 4346 UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CHISINAU 000721
DEPT FOR CA/FPP, CA/VO/F/P DEPT ALSO PASS TO KCC POSTS FOR FRAUD PREVENTION MANAGERS FRANKFURT FOR RCOS
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: CVIS, KFRD, CMGT, ASEC, MD SUBJ: MOLDOVA ELDERLY TRAVELERS B1/B2 VALIDATION STUDY
REF: 07 BUCHAREST 001336
1. SUMMARY: Embassy Chisinau conducted a validation study of B1/B2 issuances to applicants over 60 years of age. Post combined the results from DHS's Arrival Departure Information System (ADIS) with follow-up telephone calls. The study covered 100% of B1/B2 issuances in CY 2008 to applicants who were at least 60 years of age within that year. The sample group consisted of 289 applicants. The study showed 5.2% of travelers over 60 overstayed or adjusted status. Furthermore, only 2% of travelers over 65 overstayed. END SUMMARY.
Data Collection and Methodology
2. Elderly applicants are often seen as possibly problematic. Potentially of use as long-term babysitters, and with limited disposable income or other economic ties to their country of origin, they are often seen as likely to remain in the U.S. for extended periods. To evaluate such assumptions, post looked at all the B1/B2 visa issuances from January 1 to December 31, 2008, to any applicant who reached at least the age of 60 years by December 31, 2008.
3. The total sample group was 289 individuals whose travel patterns were examined with the use of ADIS and the use of follow up phone calls. Post looked at the numbers of people who traveled or did not travel on the visa they were issued, the length of time it took applicants to travel on the visa they were issued, and the length of stay.
4. Of the 289 people issued visas, 3.1% presented Russian passports, 1% Ukrainian, with the remainder traveling on Moldovan Passports. (COMMENT: The absence of Romanian passports in this population is notable given the large numbers of Moldovan citizens who hold them. END COMMENT) About 12% of the sample had traveled to the US prior to the visa issuance in 2008.
5. Post examined the patterns of visa use for the CY 2008 issuances. Thirty-five of the people issued visas in 2008 (12%) have not used their issued visa by the time of the study. Of the 254 travelers, 42% traveled within 30 days of receiving the visa, 70% within two months, 90% within six months. Almost all traveled within a year of issue, with only two people waiting for more than a year to travel.
6. To date, of the 254 travelers, 88% have only traveled once, 12% have traveled twice, and two people have gone three times. Over 72% of all travelers have not spent more than three months in the United States at any one time. Of those who traveled, 25 are currently in the U.S., but only seven of them have overstayed or adjusted status.
7. Fifteen travelers (5.2% of issuances) spent more than six months in the U.S. (NOTE: one of the travelers with no departure record was reached by phone at her Chisinau residence, and after getting over her surprise at hearing from post, immediately requested information on potential future visa issuances. END NOTE) Nine travelers had overstayed according to ADIS, but had left the U.S. at the time of the study. Seven people are assumed still to be in the U.S. Of these, two people have adjusted status, as has one person not currently in the U.S. Illegal overstays for this population amount to 13 people, or 4.5% of issuances. Today, only 1.7% of the people in the study sample are in the U.S. illegally.
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8. Of those who traveled once, almost 94% were in the U.S. for less than six months. 38% spent 31 days or less in the US, 22.5% spent between 32 and 62 days there, 12.6% people spent between 63 and 92 days, and 19.8% spent three to six months (93- 182 days) in the U.S. Of the 30 people who traveled twice, only one overstayed, with trips of 184 and 187 days.
9. Advanced age was not a significant factor in overstay rates. Only two of the 16 people over 80 overstayed, while the remaining overstays were all under 70. Overstays over 65 were only 2% of all issuances for this sample.
10. The low number of overstays in this target group shows that most applicants issued visas after the age of 60 (and especially over 65) continue to have strong ties to Moldova, even if they do not have a significant amount of disposable income, or have family members in the U.S. Apparently family, community, cultural and habitual ties, as well as those to land or other real estate, are quite strong for this population.
11. The relatively low number of people who made multiple use of the visas, and their generally positive travel history, further demonstrates that most applicants in the sample did not use a multiple entry visa to spend the preponderance of their time in the U.S.
12. The results of this study show that Moldovan pensioners are only marginally riskier issuances than their Romanian counterparts (REFTEL), and that shows that in absolute terms, Moldovan pensioners are low-risk applicants, especially those over 65 years of age. This initial conclusion, however, should be reviewed over a longer time horizon, and post intends to conduct a study of longer term visa usage by this population in the near future.