By Attorneys Robert L. Reeves and Eric R. Welsh
On July 25, 2011, the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines instituted a new procedure for renewing a nonimmigrant U.S. visa. This new procedure, known as the “Visa Reissuance Program” (VRP), is similar to procedures in place at other embassies and consulates across the globe, and provides for streamlined and simple renewal of recently expired or soon-to-be-expired nonimmigrant visas. If an applicant is eligible for VRP, the applicant need only schedule an appointment with the U.S. Embassy in Manila, appear at the appointment time, and complete a simple screening and a 10-print finger scan. No interview is required, and appointments are generally available within a few days.
In order to qualify for VRP, the applicant must be: (1) a Philippines passport holder; (2) who was issued a full-validity nonimmigrant visa in Manila (a visa valid for 5 years or 10 years); (3) which is NOT annotated as “clearance received;” and (4) which is still valid, or which expired within the last 12 months. In addition, the applicant must have in his or her possession every passport that covers the entire period of time since he or she received the full-validity visa, and must be able to provide the visa control number from the visa (located in the upper right hand corner of the visa).
An applicant is not VRP eligible if the applicant: (1) has ever stayed in the United States for more than six months (even if the stay was pursuant to an extension granted by the Department of Homeland Security); (2) was refused a U.S. visa in the last twelve months; or, (2) has ever been arrested or convicted for any crime or offense. If any of these disqualifications apply, the applicant may still be eligible for a nonimmigrant visa, but the applicant will need to apply through the normal interview process at the Embassy.
The U.S. Embassy in Manila advises potential VRP applicants that the Embassy reserves the right to interview any applicant. If the Embassy determines that an interview is required, a representative of the Embassy should contact the applicant within two business days of his or her VRP appointment. If an applicant is not actually eligible for VRP but schedules a VRP appointment, the applicant will be turned away at the Embassy and advised to schedule a regular visa interview.
For eligible applicants, the VRP is a fast and easy way to renew a nonimmigrant visa without waiting weeks for a visa interview, and without the inconvenience and stress associated with appearing for an interview. Visa renewal under the VRP is designed to be user-friendly and efficient.
If you have any questions about your eligibility for VRP, or if you would like assistance in renewing a visa under VRP or under the normal interview process, you should seek the advice and aid of a competent and experienced U.S. immigration attorney.