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Laura J. Mazel reflects on the State Department’s Mission Mexico and U.S. Consulate in Tijuana, Mexico

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Laura J. Mazel reflects on the State Department’s Mission Mexico and U.S. Consulate in Tijuana, Mexico

November 18, 2015 | Written by Laura J. Mazel

In the midst of reports of delays with acquiring visa stamps at Consulates worldwide, last week’s November 12th American Immigration Lawyers’ Association-sponsored tour and question and answer session at the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana, Mexico provided some key insights into the visa acquisition process at that Consulate and how to avoid some possible hiccups at that Consulate, as well as in Vancouver, Canada and Cuidad Juarez.  “Respect and efficiency” aptly describe why operations at those three Consulates, but particularly Tijuana, are successful.

Stacy Saravia, Nonimmigrant Visa Chief, Tijuana, Mexico led the tour of the large and new Consulate.  Ms. Saravia credited the Consulate’s approach of ensuring “timed” lines (think: Disney Land), which keeps the process inside at 30 minutes and eliminates the rock concert line wrapping around the building feel of many consulates worldwide. Respectful customer interface is a big component of the Consulate’s mission.  Not surprisingly, leadership at the Consulate is accessible for substantive follow up when needed. 

Ms. Saravia related how applications there may succeed when applicants come prepared. Nancy Biasi, Consular Chief and U.S. General Counsel, Vancouver, Canada, provided frank sum ups of how operations the Consulate works in Vancouver, Canada. Miguel A. Chavez, Field Office Director, U.S. Consulate General, USCIS, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, summed up helpful tips about the process in Cuidad Jaurez. 

Practical Takeaways for Visa Applicants in Tijuana: 

  • The Consulate allows private contractors on site to take required photos and store mobile and electronic devices which are not allowed inside.
  • The Consulate uses DHL in house to return passports to any DHL facility in Mexico. This allows customers to avoid the security lines at the Consulate. Further, the Consulate will directly ship U.S. passports to an address in the U.S.
  • Applicants should bring a full copy of the petition and key points of supporting documentation, even though the government should theoretically have access to it in the system.
  • Be prepared to talk about what the trip entails and what the individual’s role is at the company.  Business cards can be powerful.

In sum, as we approach the holiday season’s rush on visa appointments worldwide and taking into account the unpredictable nature of background checks, it is energizing to hear from State Department leaders from Tijuana, Vancouver and Cuidad Juarez, all three of whom convey a can-do attitude combined with respect for visa applicants.

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