Consular Processing For Nonimmigrant Visas
Most aliens wishing to come to the US for business, study or pleasure on a temporary basis can obtain a nonimmigrant visa at a US consulate. Exceptions exist to nonimmigrant visa requirements for entry into the US, such as the no visa requirement for 90-day visits for aliens from specific countries in the Visa Waiver Program, parolees, and Canadians seeking entry in categories other than the E visa. Residents of Mexico or Canada can enter for limited time and distance with a border-crossing card, or “laser visa”, which is considered a B1/B2 visa. Otherwise, the vast majority of the remaining people who enter the US each year require a visa.
How do I apply via a consulate?
What restrictions are there for applying via a consulate?
Post 9-11 procedures restrict many of the options available to aliens for processing. For example, visa-exempt status is no longer available to aliens landed in Canada from former commonwealth countries. Furthermore, the DOS established lengthy security clearance procedures after the visa interview for males and females over the age of 16 from “State 6” nations* and males over the age of 16 from the “List if 26 Countries.” The delays for these individuals can be from a few days to several months, but most are completed in 30 days or less. Applicants from the People’s Republic of China can also expect processing delays arising from consular determination that the Technology Alert List is not involved in the visa application. The Technology Alert List involves a wide-range list of technology and skills. For information on the types of security checks by nationality, visit www.state.travel.gov.
All male applicants between 16 and 45 must complete a DS-157 form that collects additional security-related information.
Most consulates require fee payment in advance of the visa application submission or consular appointment at a designated local bank. Many consulates, including Canada, require an appointment for the interview. For more information on appointments by consulate, visit www.state.travel.gov. Since 9/11, applications by mail are seldom allowed. The US Department of State decreed a small number of applicants who are eligible for the personal interview waiver. Individual consulate websites list the classes of those persons eligible for personal interview waiver.
How do I prove that I do not intend to immigrate to the US?
The essential element in obtaining most nonimmigrant visas is that the applicant must prove nonimmigrant intent. This means that the applicant must demonstrate, to the consular officer’s satisfaction, intent to leave the US after the authorized period of admission is over. This involves showing ties to one’s home, such as family, employment, etc. A consular will presume intent to immigrate until the applicant establishes that the applicant qualifies as a nonimmigrant. The presumption of immigrant intent does not apply to H-1, H-4, L-1 and L-2 visa applicants. Applicants for visa types E, O-1 and O-3 are also exempt from the proof of foreign residence requirement.
Where is the application accepted?
US Consulates in Mexico and Canada frequently accept applications from nationals of third countries. You can book appointments in Canada by going to www.nvars.com. In Mexico, go to http://www.visa-usa.com.mx/.
Can I appeal the decision if my application is denied?
*State 6 countries are those deemed by the US government to be sponsors of terror and include: Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Syria Libya, and Sudan. Iraq, formerly included, was removed from the list in October 2004, but Iraqis may undergo security checks regardless.
** Jurisdiction is established by various factors including, citizenship, residence, and discretionary jurisdiction.
Gregory Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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