Must I apply for my visa from a US Consulate in my home country?

Must I apply for my visa from a US Consulate in my home country?

The U.S. Department of State recommends an individual file for the US visa in their home country or country of residence.  To file in another country, or what is referred to as a “third country”, the US Consulate would require the applicant show their are special circumstances why you are applying in a country that is not your home country/country of residence and you are not returning to your home country prior to travel to the US.  Special circumstances may include, for example:  the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your home country is closed/does not currently process visas; applying in the country where you currently reside for work purposes; attendance at a professional conference; doing academic research in that country; or visiting family who hold status in that country.

Applicants must also confirm ability to enter the third country, such as applying for any necessary travel visa to enter the third country. Not having a valid U.S. entry visa may cause issues in obtaining the necessary travel visa to enter the third country if the visa applicant does not have documentation of intent to travel back to home country from the third country.

While a US Embassy/Consulate in this “third country” may accept your application, there is no guarantee the visa will be granted.  Please note that some U.S. Embassies/Consulates may not accept applications from third country individuals (e.g. due to staffing shortages or limited visa interview capabilities). It is important to note that security review procedures (such as “administrative processing”) may actually take longer to process since the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in the third country as compared to home country, as consular officials in the third country must contact consular officials in the applicant’s home country/country of permanent residence to verify previous visa application status and conduct home country security checks.

If the visa application is denied in the third country, then the applicant will be advised to return to their home country or country of residence, directly from the third country, to apply for their new US entry visa at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in that country.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If an individual submits an application for a new entry visa at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate abroad, the previous visa for the requested status, whether it is still valid or has already expired, will be stamped “Cancelled/Revoked Without Prejudice”. This means that the individual would NOT be able to use the previous valid visa to enter the U.S., or to use the expired visa for “automatic revalidation” to re-enter from Canada, Mexico, or certain adjacent islands — in order to re-enter the U.S. the new entry visa application must be approved and the new visa issued in the passport, to be able to enter the U.S. in that status. Students who have valid U.S. entry visas should consider the risks of not being able to return to the U.S. in a timely manner if the previous valid visa is cancelled/revoked.

Visa holders who have the student visa (F-1, J-1), or a student’s dependent has their visa application denied, should NOT enter the U.S. in tourist status (B-1, B-2, or tourist visa waiver using the ESTA system) as a student may not pursue studies in tourist status (may not attend classes, may not work on-campus) and individuals on F-1 Optional Practical Training, F-1 STEM OPT Extension, or J-1 Academic Training employment authorization, then will lose their authorization to work in the U.S. as their F-1 status will have been ended by entry to the U.S. in a different status.

Please be sure to check information on the particular U.S. Embassy/Consulate, including any guidance on “third country national” applicants, on their website (links available at