All non-Canadian visa applicants must get their visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy. There are American consulates and embassies in nearly every country worldwide. So which consulate should you visit for your visa stamping appointment?
Introduction: Nonimmigrant Visas
Nonimmigrant visas allow foreign nationals to visit the United States temporarily. Nonimmigrant categories like the O-1, H-1B, and TN enable visitors to work for a U.S. company. Nonimmigrant categories like the B-1 allow tourists to travel through the country. Nonimmigrant categories like the F-1 and J-1 enable students to study at U.S. institutions.
The process of obtaining a nonimmigrant visa will vary significantly based on the type. However, one step that impacts all non-Canadian visa applicants is getting a visa stamp at a U.S. consulate or embassy.
Visa Stamping Appointments at U.S. Consulates and Embassies
Before entering the U.S. on your new visa, you'll have to get your visa stamp in your passport.
You can get your visa stamp at a U.S. consulate or embassy. However, each consulate and embassy is different.
Which Consulate Can I Go To For My Nonimmigrant Visa?
Each U.S embassy and consulate have different wait times for appointments and different rules for third-country nationals (individuals who are not citizens of the country where the consulate is located). Consulates also vary in visa stamping processes. Some consulates may require you to attend an interview in person, while other consulates will require you to drop off your passport and pick it up a few days later.
Most visa applicants schedule a visa appointment at the consulate in their home country.
But is there any reason you might travel to a consulate outside your home country?
Some U.S consulates have significantly longer wait times for visa appointments. For example, the current appointment wait time for a B-1 visitor visa appointment in New Delhi, India, is 730 calendar days. Meanwhile, the wait time for the same visa is only four calendar days in Bangkok, Thailand.
If you are an Indian national but can't wait two years to get your visa, you may consider traveling to a consulate outside India.
Perhaps Colombia is your home country, but you are currently traveling through Europe. You don't want to return to Colombia before traveling to the U.S. You may consider getting your visa stamped at a U.S. consulate in Europe.
How to Get a Visa Stamp at a Consulate Outside Your Home Country
Getting your visa stamp at a U.S. consulate outside of your home country is possible. However, each consulate has different rules relating to appointments for third-country nationals. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, these rules have changed frequently.
You can explore the wait times at each U.S. consulate on the Department of State's website. If you discover a consulate that interests you, you should contact that consulate directly via phone or email, asking whether they take appointments for third-country nationals. You may need to contact numerous consulates before finding a consulate that says yes.
Getting your visa stamp puts you closer to entering the U.S.! However, it is just one step in the nonimmigrant visa process. Explore more immigration topics on Legalpad's blog.