After many years of service, the Revalidation Division of the Department of State has discontinued its domestic revalidation service for E, H, I, L, O, and P visas starting July 16, 2004. The revalidation program has ended due to the new requirement for the collection of certain biometric identifiers as part of the visa application process for all non-diplomatic applicants. Since the Department of State Revalidation Division does not have the facilities to collect the biometric identifiers, like fingerprints, photographs or other biometrics, it has had to discontinue the revalidation program.
What this change means
Due to the discontinuation of the revalidation program, it is no longer possible to get a new visa stamp on the passport from within the U.S. All applicants with expired visa stamps must now apply for new visas at a U.S. consulate outside the U.S., usually in their home countries. Applicants not wanting to travel to their home countries may apply at a U.S. visa processing post in Canada or Mexico, provided they have the ability to travel to that country and have made an interview appointment. Applicants may also apply at a U.S. visa processing post in other third countries, again provided they have made an interview appointment. When traveling to third countries for visa processing you must keep in mind that just because you have been given an appointment does not mean that you be issued a visa. Consular officers must still determine whether you are eligible for the visa your have requested, and if they are not familiar with the conditions in your home country (especially if it is considered a high visa fraud country or has a high visa refusal rate) may refer you to the consulate in your country for processing.
All this does not mean that if the visa stamp has expired, people must engage in additional travel or suddenly leave the U.S. to get the visa renewed. The visa is merely a travel document which is needed purely for entry into the U.S. Hence, people need to apply for a new stamp at a U.S. consulate, only when they leave the U.S. and want to reenter. Unfortunately with the demise of the revalidation service this option is no longer available.
The visa revalidation program was a convenient service for many. It allowed people to obtain new visas without leaving the U.S. After receiving the visa, they could travel and return without the uncertainty and potential delays attached to applying at a U.S. consulate abroad. Many made their decisions as to whether to engage in optional travel based upon whether their visas were granted under the revalidation process.
The revalidation process was by far the most desirable option many foreign nationals exercised to get new visas stamps in their passports. It also facilitated the freedom of movement. Now, due to the excessive rush in most consulates abroad, applicants may need to spend more time overseas than they originally planned. A visa interview appointment must be made well in advance so that a trip abroad is not unnecessarily extended.
If you are a nonimmigrant looking at renewing your visa, you could apply as a Third Country National at the border. Read the Article Apply for Third Country Visa at the border to understand more about the risks involved with such applications.
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