The U.S. Consulate in Vancouver, Canada, has notified the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association that it will accept third country H-1 visa applications even if it is the applicant’s first visa application, i.e. the applicant changed status in the U.S. and has not applied for an H-1 visa in the past. This announcement also means the Consulate in Vancouver will accept third country H-1 visa applications if an H-1 visa has been approved in the past.
A “third country” applicant is a foreign national who is not a citizen or landed immigrant of Canada. However, for security purposes we must assume under current Department of State interpretation that this does not include citizens of Iran.
Also, under current procedural rules, a third country national who visits Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days does NOT need a U.S. visa to return to the US. However, if the third party national applies for a U.S. visa while on a trip to Canada or Mexico, and the visa is refused for any reason, the applicant must depart from Canada or Mexico directly without reentering the U.S. This restriction also applies to the recent announcement by the U.S. Consulate in Vancouver. Therefore, just because that Consulate has made the announcement about third country nationals, that does not guarantee that the visa will be issued. And if it is not issued, the applicant must depart from Vancouver to their country of citizenship to apply for the visa there.
So, although this may be good news generally, going to Vancouver to apply for a U.S. visa is not without risk.