Legal Adviser’s Files: Opinions by the Legal Adviser, et al.

Memorandum by the Deputy Legal Adviser ( Tate ) to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for United Nations Affairs ( Sandifer )

Subject: Proposed Visa Regulations Concerning Visas for Persons Destined to International Organizations.

Your draft memorandum to Mr. Boykin1 raises certain objections to the above described regulations. This office’s informal comments follow. The numbered paragraphs correspond to the paragraphs in your memorandum under reference.

While Section 3 (3) or transit visas may not be ideally suited to the situation of persons described in Section 11 (2) (3) (4) and (5) of the Headquarters Agreement, the same might be said of Section 3 (2) visas which-are issued to “an alien visiting the United States temporarily as a tourist or temporarily for business or pleasure …”. The “business” referred to is commercial business. (See Karnuth v. U.S., 279 U.S. 231.) In the circumstances, this office is not prepared to say that as a matter of law the issuance of Section 3 (3) visas to persons of the categories mentioned is improper.
Although it is not wholly a legal matter, we are inclined to agree with UNA that visas issued to individuals in the categories under consideration should be unlimited unless serious reasons, such as security, are involved.
This office has already expressed the view that no charge should be made for unlimited visas issued to persons going to U.N. on business (see L/A’s memorandum of May 11, 1950 to Mr. Ingram).2
This office has previously indicated that Section 3 (7) visas should be issued to representatives of foreign governments coming to United Nations meetings on official business whether such governments are recognized by the United States or not and whether or not they are members of the United Nations (see memorandum of April 19, 1950 from L/M—Mr. Yingling to VD—Mr. L’Heureux).
Since this government has not yet become a party to the Convention on Privileges and Immunities or otherwise decided to recognize [Page 54] the United Nations Laissez-Passer as a valid travel document and as it may not do so, no reason is seen for the writing of the regulations to anticipate such a decision. However, if the decision is not made before these regulations are issued, they should at least cover the cases of issuance of laissez-passer to aliens.
No inconsistency is seen between the law and those provisions of the proposed regulations directing consular officers who know or have reason to believe that persons classifiable under Section 11 (1) or (2) of the Headquarters Agreement seek to enter the United States “for the purpose of engaging in activities which would endanger the public safety or which would in any way diminish, abridge, or weaken the security of the United States” to refer such cases to the Department. As a matter of drafting, the words “in any way” seem unnecessary and to give a rather extreme tenor to the regulation even though reason is seen for not deleting the words “diminish, abridge, or weaken the security of the United States”. It is not evident why, if application is made in time, there need be any unreasonable delay by referring cases of this kind to the Department, but the answer to the question of delay v. security is apparent. It is believed that incidents and embarrassment to this government are more likely to be avoided if proper examination is made before the alien is permitted to come to the United States. Entire freedom from “incidents” in this type of case is not to be expected. In connection with the words “diminish, abridge, or weaken the security of the United States”, however, it is to be borne in mind that these words are taken out of their context in Section 6, Annex 2 of the Headquarters Agreement and if retained should be construed in the spirit of that section and not in a spirit of narrow literalism.
The suggestion of UNA concerning the use of the term “consultants” is, of course, valid and should be adopted.
  1. Memorandum not found in Department of State files. Samuel D. Boy kin was Director of the Office of Consular Affairs.
  2. Memorandum not found in Department of State files. George M. Ingram was Chief of the Division of International Administration.