Consular Processing in Canada--Recent Changes

April 1, 2002 - Due to a recent change in regulations, aliens seeking Nonimmigrant Visas (such as H-1B or L-1) at one of the US Consulates in Canada or Mexico need to make contingency plans for the event that the visa is not issued. This change does not affect citizens of these two countries who are processing at their home consulate. In the past, many third-country nationals have gone to these contiguous countries for consular processing to take advantage of rule, which has now been changed, which permitted them to return to the US even if the consulate denied the new visa, as long as they returned within 30 days.

The new regulation, effective April 1, 2002, has the result of giving a visa denial in Mexico or Canada the same effect as a denial elsewhere. Even if they possess a valid I-94 card, without a valid visa, they will not be able to reenter the US. Applicants for new visas in Canada and Mexico should thus plan to travel to another consulate if their application is denied. This will generally be in their home country. These changes are part of an overall effort to enhance US border security following the events of last fall.

It should be noted that the 30 day rule for reentry to the US remains in force for most people who travel to Canada or Mexico and do not apply for a visa at the consulates there (however, the 30 day rule has been eliminated for those who are nationals of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea or Cuba).


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