Foreign national employees in the United States planning to travel outside of the US over the holiday season are advised to plan their trip and make sure the necessary travel documents are in order well in advance.
The warning follows news US embassies and consulates around the world are more understaffed this year than usual, and that appointments to obtain a US visa for the holiday season at embassies are filling up quickly.
Although busier than normal, it is not unusual that U.S. Consulates and Embassies receive a large number of visa applications in December, a time when foreign nationals in the US and their families take the opportunity to return home for the holidays.
However, those who do plan to travel outside of the United States during the festive season are advised to plan now to ensure they have the correct documents, and schedule any necessary US consulate visa appointments far in advance.
Steps Foreign National Employees in the US Should Take to Travel
Before traveling abroad, foreign workers in the US should first check the validity of their passport, as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) officers will not allow any foreign national back into the country with an expired passport.
NCBP officers also will not permit a traveler with a passport expiring within the next six months to stay in the US beyond the passport expiration date. Therefore, foreign nationals should renew their passport if necessary, and ensure the period of stay granted upon their return to the US is within the validity of their passport.
Foreign nationals in the United States also need to ensure that they have a valid visa stamp in their passport that reflects their current status in the US when returning from abroad. If the visa stamp expires before the date of intended return, it will be necessary to apply from a US consulate for a new visa.
How Foreign Nationals Can Get a US Visa Appointment
Foreign nationals who need to apply for a new US visa or a visa renewal are required to do so from a US consulate or embassy outside of the United States. It is first necessary to complete an DS-160 visa form and pay the visa fee, and schedule a visa appointment at a US consulate. It is now possible to complete all these steps online.
It is necessary to attend the visa appointment with a range of supporting documents, including the appointment confirmation notice, one passport-size photo, the DS-160 barcode confirmation page, and a Form I-797 Approval Notice.
Applicants are also required to provide an employment verification letter or pay slips to demonstrate current employment, and their current passport, containing at least one blank page to receive a visa stamp. Dependent visa applicants are required to provide proof of relationship such as a birth or marriage certificate.
Additional documents may also be required: foreign national visa applicants are advised to check full requirements on the website of the relevant US consulate. If planning to travel abroad for the holiday, foreign nationals in the US from visa-exempt countries will need to ensure that their US ESTA (Electronic Travel Authorization) is still valid in order to re-enter the country.
Visit onlinevisa.com to check visa requirements for foreign nationals in the US.