Steps for "Third Country National" to Apply for a U.S. Visa in Mexico or Canada

A “third country national” is a person who is a legal resident or national of a country other than the United States (U.S.) or the country in which he/she applies for a U.S. visa stamp. For some international students and scholars, renewal of a U.S. visa stamp in Mexico or Canada, instead of their country of legal residence or citizenship, seems like a convenient option. However, there are some factors you should consider before making the decision to apply for a visa renewal in Mexico or Canada as well as some special procedures of which you should be aware.

Below are steps you should follow in making your decision to apply for a U.S. visa stamp in Mexico or Canada:

  1. Consult the Office of Diversity and International Affairs: Before deciding to apply for a visa in Mexico or Canada, consult your Office of Diversity & International Affairs advisor to be certain you are considering all potential risk factors and have all appropriate visa documents and signatures needed for the visa application.
  2. Read the Office of International Affairs handout on “Travel to Contiguous Territory and Adjacent Islands; Rules for ‘Automatic Revalidation’ of Visa”
  3. Consider the Possibility of a 20-Day Security Clearance: A special security clearance may be required for nationals of certain countries that may result in a delay of 20 days or longer in the issuance of a visa. If a “Security Advisory Opinion” (SAO) is required, you must usually wait in Mexico or Canada until the clearance is issued. You may not be able to return as scheduled to resume your duties at UTMB and incur unforeseen lodging and food costs in an unfamiliar city. For information about factors that may result in an SAO requirement, visit the web site of the US Department of State at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/
  4. Consult an Immigration Law Firm Offering Third Country Visa Renewal Services: A number of immigration firms in the Houston area offer consultations regarding visa renewal in Mexico or Canada. Attorneys with these firms can review your immigration documentation and consult consular officials in the country of your planned visa renewal to determine how likely it is that your visa application will be approved and whether you may experience a delay in visa issuance due to a security clearance requirement. They will also accompany you to the U.S. consulate in Mexico or Canada, although they cannot participate in the visa interview itself. We strongly recommend this type of consultation if you are considering a visa renewal in Mexico or Canada.
  5. Make a Visa Appointment: If you are not a resident or national of Mexico or Canada, you must make a visa appointment over the internet. For visa appointments at U.S. consular posts in Mexico visit: http://mexico.usembassy.gov/ . For visa appointments at U.S. consular posts in Canada visit: http://canada.usembassy.gov/.
  6. Determine Whether You Need a Mexican or Canadian Visa: Once you receive the visa appointment confirmation, you will need to travel to Mexico or Canada to apply for the visa on the appointed date. All nationals of countries other than the United States, Canada and Mexico must have a Mexican visitor’s visa to enter that country. For Canada, the visitors’ visa is required only for certain nationalities. Contact the nearest consulate of the respective country for information and application materials:
  7. a. Mexican Consulate General

    b. Canadian Consulate

  8. Information and Assistance in Applying for a Visa in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico: http://ciudadjuarez.usconsulate.gov/
  9. Visa Approval Cannot Be Guaranteed: Remember that the outcome of a visa appointment cannot be guaranteed. Whether to approve or deny the visa is the decision of the consular officer. If the visa application is denied, you should be given the reason(s) for denial in writing. This may help you prepare for future visa applications.
  10. Provide copies of your new visa stamp and Form I-94 to the International Affairs Office: Once you return, please visit the International Affairs Office so that we can make copies of your new documents. Also, please share information regarding your experiences in applying for visas overseas or in Mexico or Canada. Your feedback is helpful to us in advising other international students and staff.

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