Visa Processing Changes in Mexico from January 10, 2011

The U.S. Embassy and consulates in Mexico recently changed the nonimmigrant visa (NIV) application procedures. As of January 10, 2011, applicant service centers (ASCs) will perform some of the visa application processing. Nonimmigrant visa applicants will apply through the ASCs prior to the visa interview at the consulate. This change is important for some MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers who apply as third-country nationals (TCNs) for nonimmigrant visas within Mexico.

U.S. Government Implementing ASCs at High Volume Posts

ASCs are U.S. government contracted facilities intended to improve efficiency in the visa application process at U.S. consulates. Over the next two years, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) plans to establish ASCs at other high-volume consular posts around the world. ASC employees are not U.S. government employees. Where ASCs are utilized, all NIV applicants are required to use the ASC services. ASCs collect biometric data, including fingerprints and digital photographs. For all other visa services, applicants should still use the call centers.

NIV Procedures: Form DS-160 and MRV

NIV applicants must complete Form DS-160 and pay the machine-readable visa (MRV) fee prior to setting an appointment. The DS-160 may now be saved and completed over several online sessions, rather than be completed in one session, which was the case previously. Appointments may be scheduled online or through the call center; applicants need the MRV receipt number and DS-160 barcode number to schedule the visa appointment.

To determine whether an applicant needs only an ASC appointment or both an ASC appointment and a visa interview, the NIV applicant is asked questions either online or through the call center. If a visa interview appointment is needed, the interview is automatically scheduled by the appointment system. The collection of the applicant’s biometric data prior to the interview appointment is intended to reduce the time required for the visa appointment.

Additional Details Available Online

Detailed instructions for nonimmigrant visa applicants are available on the website for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico. Visa application procedures are subject to change. Thus, all applicants are reminded to check the current procedures before starting the visa application process.

Decrease and Reciprocity of Some Visa Costs and Fees

Overall visa costs have decreased with the new visa processing procedures. Visa applicants are now only required to pay the MRV fee, which covers the appointment, application, and courier fees. The MRV application fees remain the same: $140 for a tourist application, $150 for petition-based cases, such as H1B. Applicants applying at U.S. consulates in Ciudad Juarez, Monterrey, and Nuevo Laredo, which already had ASCs in place, are no longer required to pay a $26 surcharge. The MRV fee may be paid at Banamex or Scotiabank, either in person or with a credit card online or by telephone.

There may be some additional fees for third-country nationals, based upon reciprocity schedules. There also may be additional fees for some L-1 intra-company transferees.

Interview Waiver Program (IWP) Available for Mexican Citizens

Another change to visa processing procedures is the Interview Waiver Program (IWP). Under the IWP, many applicants who are applying for a renewal of their visas will no longer be required to attend in-person interviews at the U.S. consulates. To be eligible for the IWP, applicants must be Mexican citizens with valid Mexican passports, apply for their visas in the same visa category, have valid visas or visas that expired less than one year prior, have no arrests or convictions, and have no deportations or denials of entry to the United States or other serious immigration issues.

NIV Appointments Made Prior to January 10, 2011

The new visa processing procedures began after January 10, 2011. An applicant, who scheduled an NIV appointment prior to that date, will be contacted to reschedule the visa appointment using the new system. If an applicant’s telephone number has changed, the U.S. Embassy encourages applicants to contact the call center as soon as possible to avoid further delays.


This change will have an impact on some MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers who use the option of applying for visas in Mexico. The expected expansion of ASCs to other high-volume consular posts potentially could impact a greater number of visa applicants worldwide. We at the Murthy Law Firm will provide updated information as this program expands to additional consular posts.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.