Recently, the U.S. Consulate General in Vancouver, Canada confirmed to the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Department of State Liaison Committee that it will accept nonimmigrant visa applications by third country nationals (TCN) applying for their first H-1B visas, even if their visa eligibility is based on a university degree issued outside the United States or Canada. TCNs are foreign nationals who are lawfully present in the U.S. and apply in Canada for new (or renewals of) nonimmigrant visas instead of applying for them in their home countries. Before this development, TCNs were discouraged from applying for H-1B visas at the U.S. Consulate General in Vancouver.

This announcement can provide some relief to U.S.-based foreign nationals in that they can avoid traveling long distances to their home countries in order to apply for the H-1B visa; instead, they can make a relatively short trip to Vancouver and present their nonimmigrant visa applications there.

However, appointments are limited and are released several months in advance. Employers may want to regularly monitor the U.S. visa appointment system in order to schedule an application date that is convenient for them, since appointments are generally booked very quickly. Interested parties can check the estimated wait times for an interview appointment at specific U.S. consular posts on the Department of State’s website, however, these estimates do not always reflect real-time availability, particularly at posts in Canada.

TCNs who wish to process their visa applications in Canada may also want to check the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa and other U.S. consular posts in Canada (located in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Halifax) for appointment availability well in advance of their anticipated travel plans.