My Country Has No U.S. Embassy: How Do I get a Visa?

In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick addresses a very important question: I want to apply for a U.S. visa, but my country does not have a U.S. Embassy or Consulate (or it is closed at this time), how can I apply for a visa in this situation?

Did You Know? The United States has a diplomatic presence in more than 190 countries around the world. During the COVID-19 pandemic, certain U.S. Embassies and Consulates have temporarily suspended certain U.S. visa services or have been operated at a very limited capacity due to local country conditions and regulations. In countries where the United States does not have a diplomatic presence, other U.S. Embassies or Consulates have been responsible for the processing of visas from those country nationals.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


There is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in my home country (or the post nearest me is closed) what can I do to get a U.S. visa? What are my options?

Options for Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Visa Applicants

In countries where the United States has no diplomatic presence, or where the U.S. diplomatic mission has limited or suspended its activities, often times the U.S. Department of States will accommodate visa seekers by processing their applications at U.S. Embassies or Consulates in nearby countries.

However, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in a nearby country must be willing to accept applications from third-country nationals for the visa type sought. Please note that certain U.S. Embassies or Consulate may not be able to accommodate applicants if the officer is not trained to speak the third-country language or is not familiar with the process for third-country nationals. Third country nationals should also be aware that they bear the responsibility for paying their own costs of transportation and hotel stay in a nearby country, during the visa interview and visa issuance process. Medical examinations for immigrant visas may also need to be conducted by a civil surgeon in the nearby country, therefore applicants should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where they wish to apply to understand the requirements and procedures for third-country nationals.

Due to the recent closure of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia, for instance, the Department of State designated U.S. Embassy Warsaw in Poland as the processing post for Russian immigrant visa applications.

Countries with no U.S. diplomatic presence

In 2015, the United States government began re-establishing its diplomatic relationship with Cuba, however before these efforts took place, Cuban nationals were eligible to apply for a U.S. visa through the Swiss Embassy in Havana, Cuba. In June of this year, the State Department announced that IR/CR-1 and IR/CR-2 applicants who were notified on or after June 8, 2022 that their case is ready to be processed will have their interview scheduled at the U.S. Embassy Havana, beginning in July of 2022.

While IR/CR-1 and IR/CR-2 applicants who were notified prior to June 8, 2022, that their case was ready to be processed will be interviewed at the U.S. Embassy Georgetown, also beginning in July of 2022.

Additionally, the United States does not have a diplomatic presence in Bhutan, Iran, and North Korea. Nevertheless, citizens of these countries have been allowed to process their U.S. immigrant visa applications in nearby countries: at the U.S. Embassy India – processing visas for citizens of Bhutan; U.S. Embassies in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Armenia – processing visas for citizens of Iran; and U.S. Embassies in China – processing visas for citizens of North Korea.

Contested Territories

At times, the U.S. government has also maintained a diplomatic presence in contested territories. This has been the case, for example, in the city of Jerusalem. In other cases, a virtual presence may be maintained without a physical post, as in the case of the U.S. Virtual Consulate in Gaza, which has served as a platform for outreach to the Palestinian territory. (Palestinians who remained stateless could process their immigrant visa applications at the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem.)

Countries with U.S. Diplomatic Relations, but No Diplomatic Presence

The U.S. government maintains diplomatic relations with certain countries. but does not have a formal diplomatic presence in those countries due to geographic constraints. For example, the U.S. government does not maintain any diplomatic presence in the African state of Guinea-Bissau, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and other small Caribbean islands.

Residents of these nations must apply for their immigrant visas at U.S. embassies in designated nearby countries such as the U.S. Embassy in Senegal for nationals of Guinea-Bissau, and the U.S. Embassy in Barbados for the Caribbean islands.

Countries With U.S. Diplomatic Presence, But Suspended or Limited Visa Services

Finally, there are countries where the U.S. government has a diplomatic presence, but due to special circumstances, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have temporarily suspended or drastically limited visa operations and services, due to lack of resources and/or local country conditions. Other special circumstances, where operational capacity may be limited is where there is a security risk, political conflict, or natural disaster.

For example, immigrant-visa applicants from Yemen have been scheduled to appear for their visa interviews at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.  However, Egypt requires Yemeni citizens to obtain a visa before entering Egypt. In some cases, the U.S. government has accepted requests for case transfers to Djibouti and other nations.

Similarly, visa applications from Libyans have recently been processed at the U.S. Consulate in Tunisia, applicants from Syria have been processed at the U.S. Embassy in Jordan, and applicants from Somalia have been processed at the U.S. Embassies in Kenya, Jordan, and Djibouti.

The Takeaway

The bottom line is that third-country nationals must check the U.S. Embassy or Consular website in the neighboring country where they wish to apply to understand the visa application procedures and requirements. If no application information for third country nationals has been posted on their official website, applicants should email the Embassy directly for information. You must not assume that every Embassy will take your case. Furthermore, certain countries require applicants to have a visa before entry. It is the responsibility of every applicant to research and understand whether the country where they wish to be interviewed has separate visa entry requirements.  Furthermore, it is important to highlight that certain Embassies and Consulates (such as U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv and U.S. Embassy London) have required visa applicants to provide proof of residency in the country to be interviewed for a visa. It is important for you to be proactive and explore the options that will be right for you.

Questions? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.

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