Generally, there is no better place to apply for a nonimmigrant visa than in a foreign national’s home country. Sometimes, however, one wants to avoid traveling to his/her home country for a variety of reasons. In those situations, processing a nonimmigrant visa application in Canada or Mexico is an option. Third Country Nationals, or TCNs, are called that because they are neither a national of the United States nor the country where they are trying to obtain a visa.

Before deciding whether to apply for a visa as a TCN, ask yourself:

  1. Have I ever violated my visa status? If so, applying as a TCN is not an option.
  2. Is this my first time applying for a nonimmigrant visa in this particular visa category? If so, is it less advisable to apply for the visa outside your home country.
  3. Will I need a visa to enter Canada or Mexico? Before you can enter Canada or Mexico to apply for the U.S. nonimmigrant visa, you may need to apply for a Canadian or Mexican visitor visa.  To find out if you require a visa to enter Canada, and to learn about the proper application procedure, visit  To find out if you require a visa to enter Mexico, and to learn about the proper application procedure, visit
  4. Am I confident that I will obtain a visa as a TCN? If you are denied your nonimmigrant visa as a TCN, you cannot reenter the United States but rather have to travel to your home country to obtain the visa.

As with all immigration matters, it is important to weigh the pros and cons before deciding which process to pursue. Applying as a TCN is just one more option to consider.

Posted by: Sarah Duckham, Senior Attorney