News June 2004

Department of State to Terminate Visa Revalidation Service in U.S.

On June 23, 2004, the Department of State published a notice stating that it would discontinue its domestic visa reissuance service for certain nonimmigrant visas effective July 16, 2004. After that date, applicants for these visas must apply at a U.S. consulate abroad. The DOS reached the decision to discontinue the service based on national security grounds, including new biometric visa requirements set forth in post 9/11 legislation. (The visa revalidation office is not equipped to process the new biometric (fingerprint) data).

In order to obtain a visa revalidation domestically, applicants should ensure the physical delivery of their application to the DOS off-site processing center in St. Louis, MO no later than 5:00 p.m. on July 16th. DOS will return to the senders all applications received after that date.

Nonimmigrant Workers who are Affected by the Suspension of Service:
Nonimmigrant visas issued to workers in the following categories will be affected by this suspension of service:

In the future, only certain diplomats and workers for international organizations will be eligible for domestic visa revalidation. These individuals are in the A, G, and NATO classifications.

Options: Several options are available after July 16, 2004 to persons who would have been able to revalidate their visas in the United States.

The best option is to apply for a visa during a trip to the worker's home country. Workers should contact the embassy to set up a visa appointment prior to leaving the U.S. and enlist the help of family or friends to pay in application fees in advance of the appointment.

Applicants may process visa applications through U.S. consulates in a third country, such as Mexico or Canada. This option is subject to some limitations, however. Depending on the worker's nationality, the worker may need a visa for admission to the third country. Also, if the U.S. consulate in the third country denies the application, then the applicant must apply at the U.S. consulate in their home country. Finally, this option is not available to applicants from the so-called terrorist-sponsoring countries.

Always bear in mind that unanticipated delays in visa processing, especially those arising from security checks, may require applicants to spend more time overseas than originally planned.

Do You Really Need a Visa? Only those foreign workers who travel outside the U.S. and again apply for re-admission are affected by the new rule. Foreign workers who do not travel will not notice any change.

Once admitted to the U.S., a foreign person no longer requires a visa. At the time of admission, the immigration officer issues an arrival/departure record (Form I-94 or I-95) to the foreign person. The arrival/departure record controls the person's period of authorized stay in the U.S. If the arrival/departure record will expire, the individual may submit a timely application to the appropriate domestic office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (an agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) to extend the period of authorized stay. The USCIS may extend the applicant's period of authorized stay even if the visa is expired or will expire. There is no need to renew a visa unless the applicant intends to return to the U.S. from a trip abroad and applies for re-admission to the U.S.

Note that individuals who have obtained Advance Parole Documents (Form I-512) are "paroled" (not admitted) into the U.S and therefore do not require visas. Also note that Canadians are visa-exempt.


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