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Travel and Security Check Issues Regarding Obtaining Visas at US Consulates Post 9-11

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Issues to consider

There are a number of issues to consider when deciding to hire a foreign national.

  • Is the foreign national applicant involved in any of the 15 categories found on the Critical Fields List from the Department of State's (DOS) Technology Alert List (TAL)?
  • If so, does the technology fall within the public domain (e.g., widely available to the public, such as a patent)?
  • Would the work performed by the foreign national be presented in an academic course?
  • Has the applicant visited a Muslim country? A visit to a Muslim country, such as Saudi Arabia, Sudan, or Afghanistan will usually trigger a security check.
  • Has the applicant received specialized training? The applicant is asked on one of the visa application forms about specialized skills or training, including firearms, explosives, nuclear, biological, or chemical experience. Some fields, such as Biochemistry, have triggered security checks regardless of nationality.
  • Does the applicant have a common surname? False security "hits" are sometimes based on common Muslim names, such as Muhammad Ali or Ali Muhammad, and particularly Muhammad Siddiqui, or common Latino names such as Juan Gonzalez.
  • The department must complete the Technical Alert Letter (TAL) prior to the visa appointment at the US Consulate.