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Viewing cable 06BRASILIA2379, EMBASSY BRASILIA R1 VALIDATION STUDY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06BRASILIA2379 2006-11-09 20:08 2011-02-01 00:12 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Brasilia
VZCZCXRO5139
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #2379/01 3132038
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 092038Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7330
INFO RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 8578
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 3314
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 5837
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 002379 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR CA/VO/F/P, CA/FPP, CA/EX 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: CVIS KRFD CMGT BR
SUBJECT: EMBASSY BRASILIA R1 VALIDATION STUDY 
 
 
Summary: Embassy Brasilia conducted a call-back survey of all 100 R1 visas issued in the calendar years of 2003, 2004 and 2005. Results showed that 73% of individuals who received R1 visas have either returned from or are still legally in R1 status in the United States; 15% are confirmed fraudulent cases; 2% never traveled; 3% have adjusted to Lawful Permanent Resident status and 8% are inconclusive. End Summary. 

Definitions 

2. Post organized results into four categories: 

1) Confirmed Return or Current Legal Presence in the U.S. for those religious workers we managed to contact either directly or through the church and determined that they left the U.S. or are still present legally, i.e. work for the same church under a valid I-94. 

2) Confirmed Fraudulent Cases for religious workers who either engaged in additional unauthorized employment or completely abandoned their churches in the U.S. and have apparently failed to leave the country. 

3) Never Traveled for the individuals who did not utilize their R1 visas. 

4) Lawful Permanent Residents for those missionaries who have adjusted their status in the U.S.; and 

5) Inconclusive for those religious workers whose whereabouts we failed to determine. Data Analysis General Observations 

3. The fast-growing number of legal and illegal Brazilian immigrants in the U.S. evidently requires a steady supply of Portuguese-speaking religious workers. The results indicate that just as with other types of non-immigrant visas, the socio-economic background of the applicant for religious visas can oftentimes serve as an indicator of whether or not the individual is likely to abide by the visa terms. For instance, we confirmed a 100% return rate among young people traveling to the U.S. for two-year missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Be it the strong church support network or the fact that the majority of the missionaries were either students at prestigious universities or were planning on studying upon completion of the mission, none of the R1 applicants from this subgroup overstayed the two years indicated on the application form. 

4. On the other hand, applicants with less established livelihoods, often times traveling to the U.S. with their families, tended to stay longer than the time specified during the visa interviews. A few of them stated in the phone interviews that they were planning on living in the U.S. for an undetermined period of time if the church decided to file for permanent resident status for them. 

Confirmed Fraudulent Cases Analysis 

5. 47% of the fraudulent cases were linked to a U.S. citizen pastor of Brazilian descent who is believed to have been smuggling aliens into the U.S. by means of religious visas. The applicants were supposed to be working at Bethel Full Gospel Baptist Church, Abundant Life Ministry or Abyssinia Missionary Baptist Church (all in Jacksonville or Miami, Florida). However, during telephone interviews with the church administration it became evident that none of the R1 visa holders were associated with the churches and their whereabouts in the U.S. were unknown. 

6. 40% of the detected fraudulent R1 visa holders either never worked at the church that petitioned for them or left the organization shortly after arriving in the U.S. 

7. 13% of fraudulent R1s are still associated with the church. However we confirmed that these religious workers are performing unauthorized employment in the U.S., i.e. they are most likely not full-time religious workers and are working illegally in other jobs. 

8. Although only 24% of all successful R1 applicants in 2003, 2004 and 2005 were from the Brazilian state of Goias, residents of Goias comprised 80% of the fraudulent cases. 

Universal Church 

9. Over the course of 2003, 2004 and 2005, Embassy Brasilia issued several R1 visas to members of the Universal Church, a rapidly growing Brazilian religious organization, founded in 1977 and boasting up to 10 million members worldwide. Expanding the organization to countries outside of Brazil is one of the Church's top priorities. In the United States alone the organization has 135 churches and more than 190 pastors. Most services conducted by the Universal Church in the U.S. are in Portuguese or Spanish and cater towards immigrants from Brazil and other South American countries. Initially, we found it impossible to locate any of the visa holders as the contact information provided on the application forms DS-156 and DS-157 was incomplete or had changed. However, at the time of the study we happened to receive R1 visa applications from several church members planning on traveling to the U.S., which gave the 

BRASILIA 00002379 002 OF 002 

Consulate an opportunity to obtain contact details of the individuals who we issued visas to in 2003 and 2004. During subsequent telephone interviews, several interesting details emerged. First, although at the time of the visa interview all Universal Church missionaries indicated they were only planning on staying in the U.S. for one year, none of them has left the country and all were still employed by the church in 2006. Secondly, although R-1 holders for Universal Church spoke very little English, everyone we spoke to had a correct understanding of U.S. immigration laws regarding religious visas, such as the allowed period of stay, when and how the extension needed to be filed and when the church, if still requiring their services, would petition for their permanent residence in the U.S. All of the above suggests that the Universal Church operations are extremely well organized and provide assistance to its members at all stages of the visa application process. Evangelical Churches 

10. Between 2003 and 2005 Embassy Brasilia issued 16 visas to religious workers going to evangelical churches in the U.S., namely Assembly of God, Abundant Life Evangelical Community and Heal-Our-Land Ministries. The survey revealed that none of the R1 visa holders in this category returned to Brazil, 38% are still in the U.S. working for the churches that petitioned for them, 31% are confirmed fraudulent cases, 12% have applied for Lawful Permanent Status and 19% are inconclusive. 

11. Post discovered that there are a large number of evangelical churches associated with Assembly of God. However, there is no central database of alien pastors working for the churches. Frequently, it was impossible to establish the whereabouts of the missionaries, and church staff were reticent to provide information. 

Methodology 

12. Utilizing the AdHoc software reporting tool, we first generated a list of all R1 visa holders who were issued visas by the Embassy in 2003-2005. We then contacted each and every individual by phone or spoke to the church in the United States where the applicants were planning to work. 

Conclusion 

13. While we are pleased with the results of the study, we managed to identify several areas that need improvement. The large number of fraudulent cases indicated that more research on the inviting church in the U.S. is required. Post is advising prescreeners to improve data entry because incomplete data seriously slowed down the callback survey and was frequently associated with fraudulent cases. Post recommends that Conoffs request additional information from the applicants and/or religious organizations in the U.S., such as tax and financial documents and payment information to check whether the host churches are actually able to take on an alien pastor or religious worker and whether the church exists on more than just paper. 

14. It is often complicated to establish the validity of an employment offer for religious workers. Therefore, Post would benefit from closer cooperation and a greater exchange of information with DHS in the United States. For instance, a USCIS representative at a recent mission-wide Fraud Prevention Conference in September 2006 clearly was tuned into the problems of R-1 visa application from Brazil; now we need to create robust mechanisms (perhaps a centrally-located database) to share information with DHS. 

Sobel