The seemingly official U.S. visa website for foreigners seeking to travel or immigrate to the United States appears to be normal at first glance. But the inconsistent graphics used on one particular webpage will catch your eye.
When the user clicks on either the temporary or permanent visa webpage for visa information and appointment services, a page opens with a list of various countries, all of which are listed by name— except for Israel. In Israel's case, only Jerusalem and Tel Aviv listed.
The U.S. does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as made famous by the 2015 Supreme Court ruling striking down a law that enabled Americans born in Jerusalem to list “born in Israel” on their passports. But why is Tel Aviv—the current location of the U.S. embassy—not associated with its country?
An spokesperson from the U.S. State Department told JNS.org that the website is clearly not a government Internet domain, and that "the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, outsources many of our non-governmental visa processing services, including general information, appointment scheduling, fee collection, and document delivery services."
However, the pro-Israel blog Elder of Ziyon—which first noticed this discrepancy—reported that a number of U.S. embassy websites point to this site as the official page relating information on U.S. visas, such as this Chilean embassy, which calls the website "the ONLY authorized website for the payment of visa fees."
The State Department spokesperson also said that the graphics on the website are "not designed to represent U.S. policy toward any individual country or population, rather they are provided to visually guide customers toward relevant visa information. U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate websites, in particular—http://israel.usembassy.gov/index.html and http://jerusalem.usconsulate.gov/index.html—provide a wealth of information about the U.S.–Israel bilateral relationship and our representation to Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank.”
The spokesperson also confirmed to JNS.org that the website is “run by a private company on behalf of the U.S. Government to provide these services.”
The original outsourced company, the Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), told JNS.org that the management of the website has been transferred to the "CSRA, which is the spin-off of CSC'S US federal government business late last year."
But CSC's spokesperson also said that the company is "referring all inquiries on this topic to the US Department of State," which adds fuel to the fire that the site is, at the very least, closely associated with the State Department.
Shannon Booker, External Relations Principal for CSRA, echoed this suggestion.
“We operate this website under a contract with the Department of State and therefore we must refer you to our customer regarding this inquiry,” she said.