What are the Conditions and Limitations of a Third Country Visa (TCV)?

Applying for visa in a country which is not your home country (called a “third” country) can be more difficult than applying at home.  You may need to prove that you have continuously maintained lawful immigration status during your time in the U.S. or be sent back home to your country to apply for the visa.  Since refusal in a third country is more likely than at home, students should plan well in advance of their date of travel.

Conditions and Limitations

In order to apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa in a third country, you must:

  • have been continuously maintaining lawful non-immigrant status during your stay in the U.S;
  • be currently enrolled or planning to enroll for the next academic semester at a school or have received an authorization to engage in optional practical training (for F-1 students) or Academic Training (for J-1 students).  F-1 students on OPT will need an Employment Authorization Document card and J-1 students will need the Academic Training authorization letter. (Note: applying for a visa while on OPT can be risky; ask a student advisor, consult with an immigration attorney, or read the OPT handouts for more information.);
  • use an I-20 or DS-2019 form from the school that you will attend when you return to the U.S. (for example, if you have finished at your current school and will be returning to the U.S. to study at another school).  The only exception is if you plan to attend summer classes at another institution, but you will return to your current school for the Fall semester;
  • have a “valid” reason for applying in the country where the consulate is located; you are likely to be denied if your only reason for applying in that country is to avoid your home country consulate.  Examples of “valid” reasons include: to attend a conference, to visit family or friends, etc.; and
  • be able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the visa officer that you have enough funding to complete your program and that you plan to return to your home country.  If you have relatives that are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, this will be more difficult to do.