Changes In Non-Immigrant Visa Procedures
Re: New Non-Immigrant Visa Form Required of All Male Applicants between Ages 16 and 45; Impact of New Security Procedures on Visa Application & Revalidation Procedures; Special Processing Requirements (SPR) on Visa Issuance for Men from Listed Countries; Visa Processing for “Third Country Nationals” in Canada or Mexico; Longer Waits for Revalidation of Visas By Mail
NEW NON-IMMIGRANT VISA FORM FOR MALE APPLICANTS AGES 16 TO 45
On January 12, 2002, the U.S. Department of State announced that a newly created supplemental application form (DS-157) will be required of all male applicants for non-immigrant visas who are between the ages of 16 and 45, regardless of nationality. This form is required in addition to the standard form (D.S.-156) that is used for non-immigrant visa applications. (Note also that the D.S.-156 is a new version of the basic non-immigrant visa application form, and replaces the older version known as O.F.-156). The new DS-157 form, which should be available shortly on the Department of State website at www.travel.state.gov/visa_services.html , is intended to elicit information pertinent to security clearance issues in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. If deemed warranted, the consulates may request a “Security Advisory Opinion” from the State Department in Washington, DC. Consulates have the discretion of requiring the new DS-157 form of other applicants, e.g., females or males of other ages. (The form is also available at: http://madras.sphynx.com/wwwhniv.html ).
Special Processing Requirements
The U.S. Department of State has imposed Special Processing Requirements (“SPR”) on the process of issuing visas to persons from certain nationalities post September 11, for security reasons. Under the SPR, males between the ages of 16 to 45, who are nationals of certain countries, are now subject to a 20-day security check wait before their visas are issued. This procedure is not unprecedented. (For example, certain Iranians have been subject to a Visas Eagle check, which is now only valid on a per visa entry basis and takes 30 days.).
Although the State Department has not officially acknowledged for which countries the new procedures have been implemented, the 20 day check allegedly applies to the following countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. There have been some reports of females being subjected to these requirements, and no doubt the consulates will have the discretion to impose the security check procedures on any applicant whenever deemed warranted. The list of affected nationalities could also change.
In sum: These security measures may impact the ability of any non-immigrant visa applicant, including applicants for employment-based visas, to quickly obtain visas to enter the U.S.
Visa Processing for “Third Country Nationals” in Canada or Mexico
Normally, a foreign person is expected to apply for a visa at a U.S. consulate in his or her home country. However, a consulate in another country can agree to accept a visa application from a “third country national.” (Third country refers to the fact that the applicant is not from the country where the consulate is located, or from the U.S., but is from a “third country.”) For some time now, “third country nationals” have sometimes found it convenient to apply for a visa at one of the U.S. consulates in Canada or Mexico. A government contractor is responsible for a visa appointment system called MINACS. The system requires a person to call either 900-443-3131 or logging onto www.nvars.com to make appointments. This system covers the following posts: Calgary, Ciudad Juarez, Halifax, Matamoros, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec, Tijuana, Toronto, and Vancouver.
Each day MINACS forwards lists of those scheduled to the applicable consulate. An officer at each consulate reviews the list to determine who would be subject to the 20-day security wait. If subject, that person’s appointment is cancelled. THUS, WHAT IS HAPPENING IS THAT BORDER POSTS’ PROCESSING IS NOT BEING PERMITTED FOR ANYONE SUBJECT TO THE NEW SPR REQUIREMENTS . However, all applicants, regardless of country, are advised to wait five business days after scheduling before making airline reservations or other travel plans to determine if they will be contacted by phone or e-mail to cancel the appointment. Those not contacted in this time frame have appointments.
In sum: Non-immigrant visa applicants subject to SPR will no longer be able to apply for visas at the U.S. consulates in Canada or Mexico. It appears that those not subject to SPR may continue to utilize this process. Procedures may continue to evolve, and we will provide additional information as it becomes available.
Longer Waits for Revalidation of Visas By Mail
If an individual has already been issued an H, L, O, P, E, or I visas, and certain other conditions are met, he or she may apply for a new visa by mail to the Visa Office of the Department of State in St. Louis, MO. The process of revalidation is described on the Dept of State web site at http://www.travel.state.gov/revals.html . Many employees who need new visas have found this process convenient, since they can avoid having to apply for the visa at a U.S. consulate abroad when they travel. However, the trade-off is the relatively long time that it takes to process the revalidation application.