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Re: swiss-list: [Fwd: Visa Revalidation Program ends July 16, 2004]

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Re: swiss-list: [Fwd: Visa Revalidation Program ends July 16, 2004]

From: Laurent Magnenat <click for textversion of email address >
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2004 18:35:55 -0700
X-Mailer: Apple Mail (2.618)


That is right Nico, I got the same message recently, you have until
July 16 for your application to get there (for complete info see
http://www.travel.state.gov/revals.html). Here is my very recent
experience that can be an alternative to go back to CH for solely a
VISA (besides family and cheese reasons)...

While I didn't want to get separated from my passport for 10-12 weeks
by sending it to DC, I was advised by our immigration office at the
Scripps research Institute to go to Tijuana for my H1B revalidation
instead. So I booked my appointement at www.nvars.com 2 weeks in
advance (where you can also find out if your are eligible and what you
need for getting an appointments at Canada and Mexico border
consulates). I was aware that, with a PhD in molecular biology, I could
be subject to the 'security check' and be stuck in Mexico for quite
some time. Also and after 9/11, in case of refusal of the Visa
extension or inability to process the case, the consul is supposed to
cancel your existing VISA (regardless if it is already expired as in my
case or still valid), which means you are obligated to go back to
Switzerland from there. However, if they are 'nice', they could not do
that and let you go back to the US under the old 'automatic
revalidation' process. That is if you still have your I-94 (= you are
not flying there!), your existing visa is not canceled and you go to
Mexico or Canada for less than 30 days, as it was for tourist reasons.
There was a recent example of this scenario here at Scripps.

Anyway, the risks were 'lower' since CH is a country from western
Europe and I already got my H1B revalidated in Bern recently. Also, the
TSRI immigration specialist faxed a couple of days earlier to the
consulate that I was coming and that they really would like me back if
that matters. Thus, I drove down this monday and got back with my new
Visa. For an unknown reason, there was nearly nobody at the embassy
(usually hundreds of chairs are occupied on the waiting patio). My
appointment was at 10:30 together with 30 other people and I got in at
10:40. I Got my picture taken at 10:55, then waited 1/2 hour for the
officers to come back from their break. After a 5 min interview and a
couple of questions about why I am developing zinc finger based
transcription factors for the directed regulation of genes of
therapeutic interest (so you also know what I am doing now), thus
"good" and not harmful to people, I got my visa extension approved
until 2007! Nevertheless, as I am looking for a job, I may have to go
through this soon again.
Another post-doc from China present at the same time also got his J-1
extension approved. I was out in less time than it took me to get in
the US embassy in Bern last december (=1h in the cold). I got my
passport back at 3 pm even though they warn you in the appointment
letter that it could take a couple of days to get it stamped. I guess
that was my lucky day. Well, I still had to face the usual traffic jam
at the border and the secondary inspection to get my new I-94 dated.

I hope this is helpful. I make this story sound good, but I was really
nervous all week end, so, know your chances and take your risks (or
vice versa...). This is not recommended for a first time visa or change
of Visa type. Also, the situation may change quickly due to the
discontinuation of domestic revalidation services which can result in
overcrowded embassies as Nico mentioned.

Good luck to everyone.

Laurent Magnenat

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Received on Wed Jun 30 2004 - 00:44:14 PDT

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