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Do I have to apply for my U.S. Visa in my home country?

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Most people believe that you are required to apply for your U.S. Visa (travel document) at a U.S. Consulate/Embassy in your home country. However, this isn’t always the case. While it is often recommended to apply for a Visa in your home country, you may be eligible to apply in a different country if they are processing Third-Country National applications for your specific visa type.

The term “Third-Country National” refers to someone who is not a citizen of the country where they intend to apply for a visa.  These individuals are seeking to apply for the visa in a country that is not their home country.

The visa application process for a Third-Country National is very similar to a standard visa application. It can vary depending on the procedures of the U.S. Consulate or Embassy where you are applying. Please note many U.S. Consulates/Embassies prioritize citizen appointments over any others. This can lead to delayed processing and wait times.

Generally, you’ll need to go through the following steps:

  1. Choose the Right Visa Type: Identify the correct visa category based on your purpose of travel (E-2, E-3, H-1B, TN, L-1, etc..).
  2. Check Eligibility: Ensure you meet the eligibility criteria for the chosen visa category. This information can often be found on the U.S. Consulate/Embassy website. For a less complex visa application, such as a B-2 tourist application, applicants will frequently apply on their own. For a more complex visa application, such as an E-2, it is often advisable to have an attorney assist with the process.
  3. Complete the Application Form: Fill out the DS-160 application through the State Department website. Be sure to answer all questions accurately and truthfully.
  4. Schedule an Appointment: Using the appointment services website you will create a profile, pay visa fee(s), and schedule your appointment. In some cases, you may have two different appointments. One for the interview and the other for biometrics such as photos and fingerprints.
  5. Wait for Processing: At the end of your interview the Consulate officer will generally tell you if the visa has been approved. Visa processing times vary. Be patient and check the status online if possible.
  6. Receive Visa Decision: Once processed, you’ll receive a visa decision. It could be approved, denied, or additional information may be requested.
  7. Travel to Destination: If approved, adhere to the visa conditions and travel within the specified dates.

Always refer to the official website of the embassy or consulate of the country you’re applying to for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

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