Visa Processing Abroad

The U.S. Department of State, not USCIS, is responsible for issuing visas through its consulates and consular sections (within embassies) abroad, though the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) now has overall control of visa policy and the right to veto decisions to issue visas. While each artist ultimately must be responsible for completing and filing his or her visa application, petitioners cannot afford to ignore this important process. The petitioner should encourage the visa applicant to contact the consulate in advance for up-to-date information on processing times. The petitioner itself can check the consular web site for added information. The point is to plan ahead and pay attention to this critical process before USCIS issues its I-797 approval notice.

If there are questions beyond the information supplied on the consular website, make an inquiry directly to the consulate by email. Be sure to include the applicant's case number, name, date of birth, passport information, and city and country of birth. Public inquiries may also be made to the State Department's Washington, D.C. office at (202) 663-1225. This office fields more than 800,000 calls per year. Contact a consulate directly with questions, whenever possible.

Also, for practicing attorneys, legal questions may be addressed to legalnet@state.gov. Questions must be accompanied by a completed G-28 Form establishing the individual as the attorney of record for the case. Legal questions are typically addressed within one week.

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