Q: What is a U.S. visa?
A: It is a permit that allows an alien to apply for U.S. admission at its borders and is indicated by a stamp on the alien's passport.
Q: How do I know if my U.S. visa is still valid?
A: To determine if your U.S. visa is valid, you need to check your passport for your visa's expiration date and the number of permitted entries. If the expiration date has passed, your visa is not valid. However, if the date is within the expiration date and you have not used all the available entries, your visa is valid.
Q: What does valid U.S. status mean?
A: Valid U.S. status means that you are authorized by the USCIS (formerly known as the INS) to remain within the U.S. for the authorized period of time.
Q: How do I know my U.S. status is valid?
A: You can determine the validity of your U.S. status by reviewing your I-94 (Entry/Exit card). When you enter the U.S., you are given an I-94, and generally, the INS (or now BCIS or USCIS) officer stamps the I-94 card with your legal status' expiration date. If you extend your stay within the U.S. beyond your expiration date and do not obtain a new I-94, your status in the U.S. is no longer valid.
If you are a student, you can determine the validity of your status in the U.S. by checking your I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 Students) or IAP-66 (Certificate of Eligibility for J-1 Students). The length of your program dictates the length of your valid stay in the U.S. If you violate the terms and conditions of your authorized stay, however, you are out of status even though you have an unexpired I-94.
Q: How does an alien become out of status?
A: An alien can become out of status if he/she leaves the U.S. or if his/her U.S. legal status expires before it the status can be renewed or adjusted.
Q: What is the relationship between a U.S. visa and valid U.S. status?
A: A visa is a permit that gives you permission to apply for admission to the U.S. at its borders. Valid U.S. status gives you permission to remain within the U.S. Generally, an alien cannot obtain valid U.S. status without first obtaining a visa. However, you may have a valid U.S. visa but be out of status. Conversely, you may have an expired visa and still have valid U.S. status.
Margarita was issued a U.S. visa that expires next year. Margarita remains in the U.S. beyond her authorized period of stay of one year. She is out of status, even though her visa is valid.
Paula was issued a U.S. visa that expires at the end of the year. Paula violates her terms and conditions of stay in the U.S. She is out of status, even though her visa is still valid.
The expiration date which grants Joseph permission to stay in the U.S. is later than the expiration date indicated on Joseph's visa. Therefore, Joseph has valid U.S. status but an expired visa.
Q: I have valid U.S. status in the US, but my visa has expired. If I would like to visit my home country and return to the U.S., what do I need to do?
A: Generally speaking, you need to obtain a visa at a U.S. Consulate. You will not be allowed to return to the U.S. without a valid visa.
Q: I have valid U.S. status, but do not have a valid visa. If I apply for a visa at a U.S. Consulate located abroad or in my home country, is there a chance that I may not obtain a visa?
A: Yes, applying to a U.S. Consulate does not guarantee that you will obtain a visa. A U.S. Consulate has the authority to approve or deny your visa application for any reason.
Q: If I do not have a valid U.S. Visa, can I return to the U.S.?
A: Generally, you may not return to the U.S. unless you have a valid visa.
Q: What is a Third Country Visa?
A: A Third Country Visa refers to a visa application or visa obtained from a U.S. Consulate in a country other than the alien’s home country. Usually, the U.S. Consulate is located in Canada or Mexico.
Q: Why is it better to apply for a Third Country Visa rather than applying for a visa at a U.S. Consulate located in my home country?
A: Before April 1, 2002, if you applied for a visa at a U.S. Consulate located in Mexico or Canada and were denied the visa request, you would still be able to return to the U.S., provided you had valid U.S. status and you return to the U.S. within thirty (30) days of your U.S. departure. After April 1, 2002, such benefit is no longer applicable to the Third Country Visa applicants. An alien may still apply for a non-immigrant visa with a US consulate located in Mexico or Canada, but if he/she cannot obtain the visa, he/she may not re-enter the US even he/she has a valid I-94 form at the time of entry and stays in Mexico or Canada within 30 days
Q: I keep a valid status in the U.S. so I can return to the U.S. within 30 days in Mexico/Canada based on my valid I-94 form if my TCV application is denied. Is it true?
A: It was true until April 1, 2002. After that, according to the new interim rule adopted by the US Department of State, the Third Country Visa applicant, whose visa application is denied, may not re-enter the US even if she/he has a valid I-94 form at the time of entry and stays in Mexico or Canada no more than 30 days.
Q: Is this new rule intended to be a permanent restriction on Third Country Visa application?
A: So far, it is not clear. The US State Department hopes that when circumstances improve, they will restore the privilege of the old rule to the Third Country Visa applicants. However, they currently do not anticipate that time as being in the near future.
Q: Is there a difference between going to Canada or Mexico to obtain a Third Country Visa?
A: Yes. To obtain a Third Country Visa from a U.S. Consulate located in Canada, you may be required to obtain a Canadian visa to enter Canada. However, you don't need to apply for a Mexican visa to enter Mexico if you travel within thirty (30) miles from the U.S. border since there are U.S. Consulates located within thirty (30) miles of the U.S. border. Currently, an entry permit is required to enter Mexico, but that is easier to obtain than a visa.
Q: I was planning on making an appointment for my third country visa (TCV) application. I do not have a TCV appointment yet and heard that TCV processing is no longer available. Is this true?
A: No, TCV processing was temporarily suspended for certain Consulate posts. However, normal service has resumed and appointments are now once again available either online or via the 900 phone number.
Q: I have heard that the Third Country Visa application is no longer available for nationals of certain countries as a measure of anti-terrorism. Is it true?
A: Yes. The U.S. State Department is not allowing nationals from certain countries, which have been identified as sponsoring terrorism, from applying for Third Country Visa. Currently, the designated countries include: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, and Cuba.
Q: Does your firm have an attorney who speaks Spanish?
A: Yes, we have an Attorney who speaks Spanish.
Q: Does your firm have experience with Third Country Visas?
A: Yes. We have an experienced attorney who often goes to Mexico to assist clients in obtaining a Third Country Visa.
Q: May I find your Third Country Visa services through Internet search?
A: Yes. Moreover, the success and popularity of our Third Country Visa services are evidenced by the fact that our web page on this topic is among the top of a Yahoo or Google search. You will find our website on Third Country Visa is ranked in the top three. As a matter of fact, our website is listed second only to the official website of the U.S. State Department. Please click here to see the result of Yahoo search.
Q: I am living in California, but your office is headquarted in Houston, Texas. Could you handle my Third Country Visa case?
A: Yes. Z&A is headquartered in Houston, TX, but has branch offices in Chicago, IL, and New York City. We handle US immigration cases anywhere within and outside the US by using the latest technology in providing professional services to our clients since immigration cases are based on federal law. Please click here to see the map of our clients' locations in the United States.
Q: Do I need to make an appointment with the U.S. Consulate before my Third Country Visa interview?
A: Yes. An appointment is required in order to meet with a U.S. Consul and have a Third Country Visa interview. Z&A can make an appointment on your behalf.
Q: I am in J-1 (Exchange Program Participant) status and subject to the two-year home country residency requirement. May I obtain an F-1 Visa through the Third Country Visa Process?
A: Yes. However, the U.S. Consular Officer will stamp your visa indicating that you are subject to the two-year home country residency requirement.
Q: I am in F-1 (Student) status and would like to obtain an F-1 visa so that I may visit my home country and still return to the U.S. May I obtain an F-1 visa through the Third Country Visa Process?
Q: I am in J-1 (Exchange Program Participant) status and subject to the two-year home country residency requirement. May I obtain an O-1 (Alien of Extraordinary Ability) Visa through the Third Country Visa Process?
A: Yes, but you will still be subject to the two-year home country residency requirement.
Q: I am in J-1 status and subject to the two-year home country residency requirement. May I obtain an H-1 visa through the Third Country Visa Process?
A: No. You must first satisfy your two-year home country residency requirement or obtain a waiver before applying for an H-1B visa.
Q: What is the difference between a Third Country Visa and Visa Revalidation?
A: Visa Revalidation describes the process whereby you apply for a visa renewal from the U.S. State Department. Third Country Visa is when you go to a third country (not your home country) to obtain a new visa. For more information on Visa Revalidation, please click here.
Q: Which is preferred: Visa Revalidation or a Third Country Visa?
A: Visa Revalidation is preferred since you do not need to leave the U.S. in order to have your visa revalidated. In addition, Visa Revalidation fees are significantly lower. For more information on Visa Revalidation, please click here.
Q: I am in L-1 (Intra-company Transferee) status, and do not have an L-1 visa. Is the Third Country Visa an available option?
Q: Do I need to be present at my Third Country Visa interview?
A: Yes. You need to personally attend your Third Country Visa interview. You may not send someone to go to the interview on your behalf, but an attorney may accompany you to the interview. For Visa Revalidation, you are not required to make an in-person appearance. For more information on Visa Revalidations, please click here.
Q: If my application for a Third Country Visa is approved, how long do I need to wait until I obtain the visa?
A: If approved, you are given the visa on the same day as the visa interview. At the U.S. Consulate in Juarez, Mexico a visa is typically given to the applicant within two (2) hours after the visa application is approved.
Q: If I am issued a visa in a third country with a limited number of entries, is my return to the U.S. from that third country counted as an entry?
A: Yes. Upon admittance into the U.S. (at the U.S. Inspection Station located at the border), USCIS will indicate on your visa that you have used an entry.
Q: How many entries am I granted under a Third Country Visa?
A: The number of entries granted under a Third Country Visa depends on your specific facts and circumstances.
Q: If I have a question regarding my TCV application, may I inquire to your firm?
A: Yes. You are welcome to use our Free Consultation services for your own questions on TCV. If we adopt your question into our FAQ section, you will receive a gift from Z&A as a token of our appreciation to you. Please provide your mailing address so that we can send you our materials related to your inquiries and the gift, if applicable.
Q: If I wish to retain you as my attorney for my Third Country Visa application, what kinds of services do you provide?
A: We will provide a series of full services for you throughout the entire Third Country Visa process. They include:
- Making the appointment for you at the U.S. Consulate in Mexico/Canada;
- Answering any questions you may have about the third country visa process;
- Helping you to prepare documents needed;
- Discussing with you on the issues that may be important to your case;
- Preparing with you for your interview;
- Assisting you in obtaining a Mexican Permit (if applicable); and
- Representing you at the interview by talking to the Consular Officer directly on your behalf.
Q: I am an F-1 student and I wish to apply for a visa by myself. May I consult with a Z&A attorney on my situation?
A: Yes, you can. We will give you professional guidance on your Third Country Visa application by:
1. evaluating your situation and the possibility of obtaining a visa;
2. helping you to prepare documents needed;
3. discussing with you on any issues that may be important in your case and
4. preparing with you for the visa application by e-mailing you a detailed list of questions the consular officer may ask at the interview.
Q: I am a J-1 holder. Before my J-1 status expires, I wish to go to Mexico to apply for an O-1 visa. In case I fail to obtain an O-1 visa, may you bring me back to the United States?
A: Yes. If your visa application is denied, our attorney may manage to bring you back to the United States through legal methods. It may only allow you to enter and stay in the United States for a short period of time for your packing to go back to your home country, however.
For more information about Third Country Visas, please click the
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