Vietnam Revisited - Part 1

Thứ Tư, 09 Tháng Năm 201200:00(Xem: 51333)
Vietnam Revisited - Part 1
The Department of State's Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently published an Inspection Report of the US Embassy in Hanoi and the US Consulate General in Saigon . To many people in the State Department, the report brought back memories of a bitter war in which 58,000 Americans and over 200,000 Vietnamese citizens lost their lives. Along with the memories, the OIG report also shows how much progress has been made in normalizing the post-war relationship between the United States and Vietnam .
Here are some of the main points in the report:
(1) Traces of mutual suspicion still linger from the Vietnam War– which the Vietnamese call the "American War." However, trade between the US and Vietnam has increased 17-fold in the past decade.
(2) Interest in the United States is high: A televised broadcast of an interview with the Ambassador was watched by an estimated 20 million viewers in Vietnam .
(3) In the academic year 2010-2011, 14,800 students from Vietnam studied at U.S. colleges and universities – ranking Vietnam as 8th worldwide in numbers of students in the United States .
(4) The Consulate General in Saigon handles all immigrant visa cases processed in Vietnam (except for adoptions), and consistently rates as one of the five busiest immigrant visa posts in the world. In FY 2011, the Consulate General Ho Chi Minh City adjudicated 52,000 immigrant visa applications.
(5) The consulate general has a high level of fraud, particularly marriage fraud, which makes work difficult. Between 50 and 60 percent of all immigrant visa applicants are refused. Not all of these refusals were due to suspected fraud. The report found that consular officers have somewhat differing views on which immigrant cases should be approved and which should be returned to US CIS for revocation.
(6) Adoptions: The United States suspended its adoption agreement with Vietnam in 2008 due to suspicions of fraud and baby selling.
(7) The report also made some recommendations to the US Consul General, namely that he should try to pay certain housing expenses on time, that he should put more emphasis on writing reports of his activities, that he should never meet with Vietnamese officials unless he is accompanied by other staff from the Consulate, and that he should follow Vietnamese government import restrictions about bringing in a vehicle that is more than 5 years old.
(8) It is interesting to see that the State Department report also mentions that consular officers receive rest and recuperation travel benefits (R&R), because of the “challenges” of living in Vietnam . In addition, because of the “challenges” of living in Vietnam , the salaries of the Consulate staff in Saigon are increased by 25 % as a “hardship” allowance. 
The OIG report is long and not very interesting to people outside the State Department, but there is one recommendation which is amusing: “The US Embassy in Hanoi should not use excess year-end funds to purchase wine that is not needed in the current fiscal year”.
In a future program, we will continue to look at the OIG report, especially at the sections dealing with immigrant visa processing.
Q.1. Exactly why does the State Department classify Vietnam as a “hardship” post?
A.1. In fact, 60% of American embassies and consulates are designated “hardship” posts for reasons including security threats, poor quality hospitals and schools, and oppressive weather. The report does not say exactly which reasons apply to Vietnam , but those reasons probably include the weather and medical facilities.
Q.2. The OIG report states that between 50 and 60 percent of all immigrant visa applicants are refused. Is this because of attempted fraud?
A.2. No, there is not that much attempted fraud. Many of the cases are refused because the applicants do not bring all of the required papers with them to the visa interview. As a result, they need to go back to the Consulate later to submit the missing items.
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