Our office often gets this question from both first time H-1B holders and H-1B holders needing an extension of their visa – “can I go for H-1B stamping in Mexico or Canada?” Although we usually recommend for applicants to visit their home country for visa stamping, there are some benefits to going to Mexico or Canada. First, the proximity of a Mexican or Canadian consular post to the U.S. reduces travel costs and time spent away from the U.S. Also, security checks may take less time to clear at consular posts in these two countries, as there are generally fewer applicants requiring clearance. However, traveling to a consular post not in the home country does present some risks – if the visa is denied or delayed, the applicant may not be able to return to the U.S. until they have a valid visa. Since administrative processing times can be unpredictable, it may be easier for an applicant to make long-term arrangements in their home country rather than Canada or Mexico.
Can I go for H-1B stamping in Mexico?
The consular posts in Mexico allow for renewal of a visa in the same visa class, regardless of where the original visa was issued. This means an applicant cannot go for first-time H-1B stamping in Mexico if they were previously on an F-1 visa or another visa not in the H class. However, if the application was previously on an H-4 visa and now going for H-1B stamping, they can do so in Mexico since those visas are considered the same class. Keep in mind that if an applicant has been out of status in the U.S., such as overstaying the period allowed on the I-94, they cannot go for H-1B stamping in Mexico.
Can I go for H-1B stamping in Canada?
Canada accepts first time H-1B stamping. However, consular officers in Canada may refuse to issue a visa to H-1B applicants if their education and /or work experience is solely or predominantly from a country other than the U.S. or Canada. Additionally, citizens of most countries, such as India, will need to apply for a Canada visitor visa first before going for H-1B stamping.
Where in Mexico or Canada can I go for stamping?
In Mexico, there are several consulates that are just a few miles from the U.S. border in Tijuana, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Ciudad Juarez, and Matamoros. Additional U.S. consular posts are located in the interior of Mexico, including Hermosillo, Merida, Guadalajara, Monterrey and the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.
The consular posts in Canada, which accept NIV applications from third country nationals include the U.S. Consulates in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, and Halifax, and the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.
For more information or assistance on whether you may be eligible for H-1B stamping in Mexico or Canada, please contact our firm or another qualified immigration attorney.
By: Kristina M. Hernandez
Kristina is an associate attorney at Reddy & Neumann. She was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 2011. Her practice includes representing companies and individuals with employment-based visa petitions and applications.