The U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced that the Mexican border
crossing card (or “laser visa”) holders who plan to make an extended
visit to the United States during the December holiday season will be able to
obtain an essential visit document faster and more conveniently due to a change
in processing procedure being implemented at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa border
stations. Beginning Dec. 14, travelers seeking I-94 documents at the San Ysidro
port of entry may apply at any time, day or night, up to 30-days in advance rather
than waiting in line during the busy holidays when almost 3,000 visitors apply
daily for the permit.
Mexican travelers may also apply anytime for the document during the same period
at the Port of Otay Mesa pedestrian facility. The essential permit, which costs
$6, allows visitors to travel further than 25 miles from the border and to stay
up to six months in the U.S.
Permit seekers using the San Ysidro facility should plan to leave their vehicles
in Mexico and travel on-foot to the old port building on the pedestrian walkway
just across the border. Because the building is located in front of the pedestrian
entrance to the port, travelers will not need to make formal entry into the U.S.
and can conveniently walk back to Mexico, said San Ysidro Port Director Oscar
Preciado. Due to the large holiday demand and extremely limited parking at the
San Ysidro port, issuance of permits in the vehicle secondary inspection area
for those arriving in automobiles may be suspended during peak periods. To ensure
they receive their documents in time, Preciado urged that travelers enter the
U.S. on-foot as soon as convenient and apply at the old port building. Because
parking at the Otay Mesa border station also is limited, travelers are encouraged
to arrive at the pedestrian facility on-foot if possible.
In the words of Preciado, "This expanded service during one of the busiest
times of the year should reduce traffic congestion at the ports and result in
improved service that is safer, more convenient and faster,” he also added,
“We hope the Mexican traveling public will take advantage of this significant
improvement in service"
As the busiest land border port in the nation with 50,000 vehicles and 25,000
pedestrians daily entering the U.S. through its gates, the San Ysidro facility
is one of the Southwest border stations most affected by heavy holiday I-94 processing.
In the past, travelers typically applied on the day of their planned trip to the
U.S. and stood up to three hours in a line that stretched around the vehicle secondary
inspection area, causing safety problems and parking congestion, Preciado said.
Preciado cautioned that all family members who plan to apply for the documents
need to be present during the application process. Those requesting the permits
also must be able to establish financial solvency and proof of residency outside
the U.S., he said.
The expanded hours of service at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa border stations
will end on Jan. 6, 2007. CBP concurrently will launch a similar program at the
downtown Calexico port of entry to facilitate the application process for Mexicali