Applying for a Visa in a Country other than the Home Country
Nonimmigrants wishing to apply for a visa in a country other than their country of citizenship are referred to as "Third Country Nationals" (TCNs). Applicants should be aware that although some consular offices do accept visa applications from TCNs, the process will likely be more time-consuming, and the possibility of denial of a visa is significantly higher than if the applicant were applying in his or her own country. The officer in these cases has to take the extra necessary measures to become informed about the applicant's relationship to his/her home country and the U.S.
For more information on U.S. consular office procedures for processing visa applications, go to http://www.state.gov/www/regions_missions.html
Applicants who want to apply for a US visa in Canada or Mexico must have an appointment at a US consulate. For information on making the appointments, go to http://www.nvars.com.
Complete instructions for TCN visa applications in Canada and Mexico are at http://travel.state.gov/tcn.html
Automatic Revalidation of Visa Validity after Travel to Canada or Mexico
Nonimmigrants who travel for less than 30 days to Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands in the Caribbean may be eligible for automatic revalidation of their expired visa, or for the conversion of their visa to the proper status if they have changed status while in the U.S. (see below for info on change of status and travel).
To be eligible for automatic extension at the port of entry, the applicant must:
Seek admission to the U.S. after a stay in Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent Caribbean island of no more than 30 days;
Present an I-94 showing F status and indicating validity with the notation D/S ("Duration of Status");
Present a valid DS-2019 endorsed within the past 6 months by an OISS advisor;
Possess a passport valid for at least six months beyond the date that admission to the U.S. is being sought (unless exempt from passport requirements);
Have maintained lawful J status and intend to continue to do so upon reentry.
Dependents (J-2s) may reenter the country under the same guidelines as the J-1.
Note that there is NEVER a guarantee that an individual in J status seeking reentry will be admitted; even if all of the above criteria are met. Border officials have discretion to approve or deny entry to whomever they choose for reasons that may or may not be apparent to the applicant for admission.
Travel After a Change of Visa Status
Nonimmigrants who travel and have changed status, whether within a visa category (e.g., J-2 to J-1) or between categories (e.g., F-1 to J-1), while in the U.S. must apply for a visa in the new category in order to be readmitted.
Visa Application Considerations
Interviews are required of all visa applicants. Additionally, certain applicants may encounter security clearance procedures that could delay, or possibly even result in a denial of, the application. The Department of State has its own reasons for running these "checks" on an applicant; there is no way of predicting with certainty who will finally be subject to them. Because of this, it is advisable that the applicants apply for a visa well in advance of the date they wish to travel to the U.S. Individuals already in the U.S. whose visas have expired and are planning to be out of the country for a short time should consider the risk having to delay their return to the U.S. in the event of a security check. As the worst case scenario is being refused reentry, J-1s must evaluate their reasons for travel in light of their desire to continue studying in the U.S.