Visas for Sale? An Insider's Thoughts on Why the State Department Should Lose the Visa Function

By CIS on April 22, 2004

WASHINGTON (April 2004) -- "Should the visa processing still remain in the Department of State?"

This was the question posed by 9/11 Commission member Fred F. Fielding at the Commission's January 26, 2004, hearing. The Commission has not yet offered its answer, but during internal Administration debates in 2002 over the makeup of the planned Department of Homeland Security, the State Department prevailed in its view that the issuance of visas should remain in its Bureau of Consular Affairs rather than be transferred to the new department.

Was this a wise decision? One person who thinks it was not is retired Foreign Service officer Thomas R. Hutson. Mr. Hutson, who is writing a book on the subject, will discuss his reasons for supporting the removal of the visa process from the State Department at a breakfast briefing on Thursday, April 22, at 8:30 a.m., at the Center for Immigration Studies, 1522 K Street NW, Suite 820.

Over the past 41 years, Mr. Hutson has served in 41 countries, including most recently as the State Department representative to a U.K. Provincial Reconstruction Team in northern Afghanistan. His other postings have included Consul General and First Secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, (1978-1980); Deputy to the Special Representative of the President and Secretary of State for economic reconstruction at the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo (1997-1998); head of the U.S. Embassy Office in Banja Luka, Republika Srpska (Serbia) (1998); and head of office, Office of the High Representative, in Tuzla, Northeast Bosnia and Herzegovina (1998-1999).

The briefing is free of charge and open to the public, but space is limited. To RSVP, contact John Keeley at (202) 466-8185 or [email protected]. The Center is convenient to both the Farragut North and McPherson Square Metro stops.