Frequently Asked Questions: How to Apply for a Visa at a Border Post

Appointments Are Required

Any third country national (TCN) present in the United States and visitors present in Canada who wish to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at any of our border posts in Canada or Mexico must make an appointment for an interview. U.S. Consular offices are located in Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Toronto, Vancouver, Ciudad Juarez, Matamoros and Tijuana.

Appointments by Telephone

If you are in the United States and you wish to schedule an appointment, you should call 1-900-443-3131; in Canada you should call 1-900-451-2778. Callers from the United States or Canada wishing to charge the cost of the call to a credit card may schedule an appointment by calling 1-888-840-0032. Unlike the 1-900 numbers, which are blocked from most hotel, office or pay telephones, the credit card line can be accessed from virtually any telephone. The appointment system requires a touch-tone phone; a push-button rotary phone will not work.

Appointments by Internet

Applicants can also book appointments via the Internet at Each appointment costs $20 Canadian, which will be charged to a major credit card. Applicants are advised to have their credit card information handy.

After your appointment is scheduled, you will be mailed an application form (OF-156) and an information sheet for the post where you will be applying. Please DO NOT call an individual post directly to request an appointment. They can only be scheduled by calling the appropriate 1-900 or 1-888 telephone number or by using the internet.

Who Can Be Issued a Visa at a Border Post

Individuals who have ever been out of status in the United States because they overstayed their visa are not eligible to apply at a border post. In other words, if you have remained in the U.S. longer than the period authorized by the immigration officer when you entered the U.S. in any visa category, you must apply in the country of your nationality. If you are not certain about your status, check with the nearest U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) office.

Individuals seeking appointments should be aware that applicants may be more likely to encounter difficulties at the time of interview when they apply for a visa outside of their home district. Consular officers at border posts will deny visas whenever they believe there are fraud indicators present, or their lack of knowledge of local conditions and familiarity with documents in the applicant's home country prevents them from properly adjudicating the case.

None of the border posts will accept applications for "E" visas from TCN applicants who are not resident in their consular districts.

Hours of Operation

Operators are available from 7 A.M. to 10 P.M. Eastern Time. Callers may have difficulty getting through if they call during the peak times of 7 A.M., 11 A.M., 2 P.M., 4:30 P.M. and 7 P.M. Eastern Time. Appointments for border posts outside the Eastern Time Zone can only be made after it is 7 A.M. in the post's time zone. The Internet system is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Additional Information

Applicants who are unable to attend their scheduled appointments must cancel them two full working days prior to the appointment by calling toll-free to 1-888-611-6676. Would-be applicants who do not need a visa to remain in the United States may find it more convenient to apply for a visa elsewhere in conjunction with their next foreign travel. Those who plan to visit Canada, Mexico or, in the cases of students and exchange visitors, adjacent islands, may re-enter the U.S. within thirty days on expired visas as long as they possess a valid I-94 form. Visa applicants should take their appointment letters to the interview. They may be admitted without one, but absence of the letter could cause delays. Certain nationalities require visas from Canadian authorities in order to enter Canada.