|November 19, 2001
Nonimmigrant Visa Processing Suspensions for Third Country Nationals
At Border Posts
The State Department has suspended Third Country National Processing
in Mexico & Canada.
The State Department's Visa Office Managing Director has informed AILA,
that the processing of visa applications from third country nationals who
are not resident in the consular districts of the border posts has been
suspended. Existing NIV appointments are being cancelled. DOS states that
this is a temporary measure.
The DOS has indicated that the Department is concerned that the INS may
be changing its practices on the borders. This appears to be a reference
to a regulation allowing for readmission to the U.S. of nonimmigrants after
a stay of less than 30 days in Canada or Mexico. DOS does not want to burden
Canada and Mexico with a large number of visa applicants whose cases are
pending background and security checks, but who may not be readmitted to
The Department of State has also advised that it is temporarily Suspending
the on-line nonimmigrant visa appointment system and the 900 number appointments
for third country national (TCN) processing at border posts in Canada and
Mexico as of November 16, 2001. It appears that the suspension is across
the board for all nationalities at the moment.
The Department of Sate will also be notifying those with appointments
to postpone their trip until the impact of the applicants' departure from
the U.S. is confirmed with the INS.
This action is the Department's response to concerns that applicants
at border posts have no way of knowing if regulations allowing readmission
to the U.S. of nonimmigrants after a stay of less than 30 days will still
be applied to the supposed list of 26 countries whose nationals are subject
to additional clearances. Please note that more than the 26 countries reported
may be involved.
According to the Department of State, the Visa Office will contact the
INS today to follow up on the impact of the policy on applications for reentry
into the U.S. after a visa application at a border post.
Prior to this announcement, the normal procedures for NIV interviews
for those subject to the additional clearances involved two trips to the
consulate where the visa would not be issued while clearance was pending,
but the applicant, if eligible, could return to the U.S. while the clearance
was being completed. Once the clearance was completed, the applicant would
then return to the consulate to obtain the visa. At the moment, it is unclear
whether this existing policy will apply and we have been warned that it
In light of this uncertainty, to avoid being stranded in Mexico or Canada
it is imperative that counsel be involved in any travel decisions. Visa
revalidation should also be considered for individuals who are eligible.
The DOS Visa Office also advises that it is increasing staff for revalidation
of visas due to the increasing workload caused by this policy change and
by the holidays.
Greenberg Traurig Business Immigration Group will provide updates as
additional information is available.