Gazing Into the Crystal Ball–Part III–Changes in Fingerprint Procedures for Visa Applicants

fingerprintIn August 2008, I reported that the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, planned to outsource part of the U.S. visa application process—fingerprinting would be done by private contractors at a separate facility.

This began on April 6. Before going to the visa appointment at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, applicants must first make a separate fingerprint appointment at an Application Support Center (ASC) facility across town.  While the goal is to allow applicants to schedule the ASC in the morning before the consular interview in the afternoon, currently the appointments must be on separate days.

This arrangement may save the State Department money and may reduce crowding in one of the busiest consulates in the world.

But what about customer service? It seems that the State Department forgot to take into account the convenience to the hundreds of thousands of applicants served each year. They now need two appointments in different locations on separate days. For applicants who don’t live in Ciudad Juarez, an extra night’s hotel stay is also needed.

The State Department envisions using this model at other Consulates worldwide. OK. But make sure the ASC is next door to the Consulate so an applicant needs just one appointment to both get fingerprinted at the ASC and then attend the consular interview next door.

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