The Attorney General (Biddle) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: My attention has been called to the case of Victor A. Kravchenko.3 While I have made no official check of the man’s status, the various newspaper articles concerning him would indicate that, until his alleged resignation from his official capacity with the Russian Government, he was in the United States as a government official serving as a member of the Russian Purchasing Commission and also had some military rank in the Russian Army. A number of inquiries have been made of this office as to whether the man is subject to deportation and also as to whether it would be possible for him to go to some place like Mexico or Cuba rather than be returned to Soviet Russia.

Section 15, as amended,4 of the Immigration Act of March [May] 26, 1924 (43 Stat. 162–3; 47 Stat. 524–5; 54 Stat. 711; 8 U.S.C. 215), dealing with the maintenance of exempt status of non-immigrants provides, in substance, that the various classes of persons admitted as non-immigrants, including accredited officials of foreign governments, must maintain their status and upon failure to maintain such status shall be subject to deportation. However, the section contains a proviso insofar as government officials are concerned, which proviso reads as follows:

“That no alien who has been, or who may hereafter be, admitted into the United States under clause (1) of section 3, as an official of a foreign government, or as a member of the family of such official, shall be required to depart from the United States without the approval of the Secretary of State.”

It would appear from the above quoted section of the law that it would be futile for the Immigration and Naturalization Service to take any action requiring the departure of this, or any other, government official, until it has been ascertained whether the enforced departure of such person meets with the approval of the Secretary of State.

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Inasmuch as the case is so actively receiving the attention of the press and the public, I would appreciate a letter from you indicating your position with regard to this matter.


Francis Biddle
  1. Kravchenko was born in Dnepropetrovsk in 1905, and had been a member of the Communist party since 1929. He had been educated as an engineer and had been so employed at places in the Soviet Union. He had some military service in the war between August 1941 and March 1942, with rank equivalent to Captain. After being demobilized because of disability, he resumed employment as an engineer, until on August 23, 1943, he took on his duties as “Engineer, Division of Metals,” a relatively minor position as a governmental official or employee with the Government Purchasing Commission of the USSR in the United States, in Washington.
  2. By the acts of July 1, 1932, and July 1, 1940.