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US visa procedures at all foreign posts to be reviewed
( 2002-07-18 10:12 ) (7 )

The State Department said Wednesday that its internal watchdog will review policy at all US diplomatic posts abroad where visas are issued amid fierce criticism of alleged laxness in the process.

State Department inspector general Clark Kent Ervin informed US lawmakers of the review of all 207 missions that issue visas in a letter to Congress on Tuesday, department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

The review will be part of an overall investigation into visa policy that the department initiated following the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, some of the perpetrators of which had legally entered the United States, he said.

"There's been more focus on that since September 11," Boucher told reporters, referring to specific reviews of the policy and steps to prevent fraud and keep would-be terrorists out of the country.

Procedures at diplomatic posts in 41 countries have already undergone inspector general reviews since September 11 as have all passport issuing offices in the United States, he said.

Ervin "looks forward in the fall to undertaking a survey of all 207 visa issuing posts," Boucher said.

The review was announced as criticism of the visa issuing policy has come under tremendous fire on Capitol Hill with demands from some lawmakers to take the responsibility away from the State Department.



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