What do Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have in common? The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv is using all three to reach visa applicants. The goal is to educate the public in Israel about the visa process. With Israel being the app center of the universe, there couldn’t be a better way of communicating with prospective visa applicants who ask essentially the same questions. As a response to a tech-driven culture in Israel, which sends thousands of its citizens to the U.S. each year on all types of visas, the U.S. Embassy announced the launch of a video series about the visa process.
Entitled “You Ask, We Answer” and starring Ambassador Dan Shapiro and members of the consular staff, the series provides information on navigating the visa application process and related issues. The first video features Ambassador Shapiro telling applicants in Hebrew what to expect at their interview. There are several other videos covering visa requirements for children, traveling to the U.S. with a valid visa in an expired passport, and employment during one’s stay in F-1 status.
According to the Embassy, the goal behind the videos is to better inform the Israeli public about navigating the process for receiving a visa to the U.S. With Israel having little to no chance of joining the countries that enjoy the benefits of the visa waiver program, a streamlined visa process and an informed public go hand-in-hand. Despite Israel’s size, the Embassy in Tel Aviv is a very high volume consular post. The Embassy’s use of technology to get important messages to a broader public in Israel is in step with the Embassy’s ongoing commitment to using media to reach Israelis.
The Embassy’s website is a model for preparing applicants in scientific and technology fields for administrative processing that can delay a visa application by a few weeks to many months. And for many years, the Consular Section in Tel Aviv has had an active Facebook account and used YouTube. One notorious two-part video which can still be found on the website discusses the consequences of visa fraud and unauthorized employment in the U.S.
The short videos have been posted on the Embassy’s official website, Facebook page, YouTube channel, and Twitter account. In a step that will no doubt encourage communication with the public, the Embassy published its email address for nonimmigrant visa inquiries: NIVTelAviv@state.gov and also accepts messages via Facebook.