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In which country can I apply for a non-immigrant visa? Do I have to apply for a visa in my home country?

By August 18, 2020April 30th, 2021Immigration

One question we often receive from our clients or potential clients is where they can apply for a non-immigrant visa (such as E-1 visa, E-2 visa, E-3 visa, or O-1 visa).

The immigration regulations indicate that a Consulate must accept your visa applications, if:

  1. You reside in the Consular district where you are applying, or
  2. You are physically present in a particular Consular district.

What does “resident” mean?

Residence means your place of general abode – this is the place where you live but you may not be present there at the time you are applying for a visa. For example: You are a national of France, you have lived in France your whole life, you have been working in France your whole life but for the last couple of weeks before the visa interview you have been travelling around the world. You can still apply for the visa in your home country, France, as it is your general abode.

What does “physically present” mean?

Physical presence is your particular location at a given time. You should be able to apply for a visa at a Consulate that is not in your home country, but you are physically present at. Please note that the Consular offices have discretion to reject these applications but should do so rarely.

Please note that if you will not be applying for a visa in your home country, you should check the website of the Consulate where you will be applying. Some Consulates have very specific instructions on who can apply for a visa at that particular Consulate. If you do not find any information on whether third country nationals can apply for a visa, you should try to email or call the Consulate before you submit your visa application and book an appointment.

For example, the U.S. Consulate in Mexico allows the following third country nationals to apply for a visa at a Consulate in Mexico:

  1. Third-Country Nationals residing in Mexico with immigration status (FM2 or FM3)–this category may apply for a new visa/renew visa
  2. Third-Country Nationals residing in the United States – this category may apply to renew a visa in any category except B1/B2 or H2. 
  3. Third-Country Nationals who normally reside in a country that is part of the ESTAand who have lost or had their biometric passports stolen. This category may apply only for B or C visa.  
  4. Third-Country Nationals who normally reside in a country that is not part of the ESTA program and who have lost or had their vis. This category of people may apply for a B visa only.

Please see more information from the Consulate in Mexico when you click here.

As you see, the instructions are very detailed and some third country nationals can only renew their visa at the U.S. Consulate in Mexico and cannot be first time applicants. That’s why it’s extremely important to review the Consulate’s instructions before you submit your non immigrant visa application/book your appointment.

Please click here to find out what is ESTA.

Please click here to find out what is the difference between ESTA and B visa.

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