Third Country Nationals: Consular Interviews Outside Your Home Country

Nonimmigrant visa applicants often inquire about attending consular interviews in a third country. Especially for foreign nationals who travel frequently, it is sometimes burdensome to travel to the home country solely to attend the interview. Furthermore, visa applicants are oftentimes in the U.S. in some other status prior to the consular interview and desire to attend the interview at a consulate that is closer, such as in Mexico, Canada, or a Caribbean country.

Although convenient, third country nationals (“TCNs”) cannot always attend visa interviews outside the home country. Some consulates set specific guidelines on who can be interviewed as a TCN. For example, at the U.S. consulate in Nassau (and other consulates as well), petition-based first time applicants,  individuals who entered the U.S. under one visa category and are seeking to reenter in a different category, and other types of applicants will not be permitted to interview as a TCN. Embassies and consulates in Canada and Mexico cannot accept applications from non-resident TCNs who are nationals of countries currently designated as state sponsors of terrorism. Additionally, most consulates do not accept applicants for E-1/E-2 treaty trader visas from TCNs.

Ultimately, it is important to remember that each consulate may have his own guidelines and the consular officers have discretion whether to accept an applicant. Accordingly, one should seek the assistance of a competent immigration attorney before assuming she may attend a consular interview in a third country.

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