What is a Third Country Visa?
A Third Country Visa (TCV) is a process by which an alien, who is already in the U.S., can apply for a non-immigrant visa with a U.S. Consulate located in Mexico or Canada. Through the TCV process, an alien may only apply for a visa that is the same as their status in the United States and may not apply for a visa that is different than his/her current status in the U.S. On April 1, 2002, in light of the September 11th events, the U.S. Department of State adapted a new Interim Rule that does not allow a TCV applicant to re-enter the U.S. within 30 days with a valid I-94 if he/she applied for a visa but was denied for the visa application. However, if an alien’s brief travel in Mexico or Canada is for purposes other than applying for a visa with a U.S. consulate, he/she can re-enter the U.S. within 30 days holding a valid I-94 form.
How to Apply for a Visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate as a Third Country National in Canada or Mexico:
Any third country national (TCN)* present in the United States and visitors present in Canada or Mexico who wish to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in Canada or Mexico, must make an appointment for an interview. U.S. Consulates are located in Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Toronto, Vancouver, Ciudad Juarez, Guadalajara, Hermosillo, Matamoros, Merida, Mexico City, Monterrey, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo and Tijuana.
Applicants who wish to apply for their U.S. visa in Canada must visit https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-CA/niv to obtain information about how to start their application for a U.S. visa at a consular section in Canada. Applicants will be required to pay their visa application processing fee prior to scheduling an appointment. Please see the website for additional information.
Applicants who wish to apply for their visa in Mexico must visit https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-mx/niv to obtain information about how to start their application for a U.S. visa at a consular section in Mexico. Applicants will be required to pay their visa application processing fee prior to scheduling an appointment. Please see the website for additional information.
*Please note that embassies and consulates along the U.S. border can no longer accept applications from non-resident TCNs who are nationals of the six countries currently designated as state sponsors of terrorism. For more information, please see the U.S. Department of State webpage Notice: Special Visa Processing Procedures Pursuant to Section 306 of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2002.
Who May Not Apply for a Visa at an Embassy or Consulate at the U.S. Border?
Individuals who have been out of status in the United States because they violated the terms of their visa or overstayed the validity indicated on their admission stamp or paper Form I-94 are not eligible to apply at a U.S. Embassy or consulate at the border. In other words, if you have remained in the United States longer than the period authorized by the immigration officer when you entered the United States in any visa category, you must apply in the country of your nationality or legal permanent residence. If you are not certain about your status, check with the nearest U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) office.
U.S. Embassies and Consulates routinely do not accept applications for “E” visas from third country national applicants who are not resident in their consular districts.
Nonimmigrants who are already in the United States, have an expired visa, and remain in legal status are encouraged to apply for a new visa at non-border U.S. Embassies and Consulates in conjunction with foreign travel for business or pleasure. Those who plan to visit Canada, Mexico or, in the cases of students and exchange visitors, adjacent islands, may re-enter the United States within thirty days on expired U.S. visas as long as they possess a valid admission stamp or paper Form I-94 unless they are excluded from automatic revalidation, as noted below.
CBP officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. In advance of travel, prospective travelers should review important information on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection about Admissions/Entry requirements, as well as information related to restrictions about bringing food, agricultural products or other restricted/prohibited goods.
If you are traveling to the United States with a nonimmigrant visa, and are taking a short trip(s) to Canada and Mexico, review the DOS’s Automatic Revalidation webpage. Anyone who has applied for and been refused visa issuance at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate is prohibited from re-admission or re-entry to the United States in the same visa category, even though they are in possession of a valid admission stamp or paper Form I-94. Travelers who are citizens of countries on the State Department’s list of State Sponsors of Terrorism are prohibited from re-entering the United States using solely an admission stamp or paper Form I-94 if their visa has expired. Citizens from State Sponsors of Terrorism countries must be interviewed and obtain a new visa rather than re-enter the United States using solely their admission stamp or paper Form I-94.