Would you like to apply for your first H-1B visa at the U.S. consulate in Vancouver rather than your home country? This can be very convenient for anyone already in the U.S., perhaps on another type of visa. Until recently, however, if you were not a Canadian, you could do that only if you earned your bachelor’s degree in the United States or Canada.
In September 2016, the U.S. consulate in Vancouver confirmed that it will accept a first-time H-1B visa application from a third country national (in other words, not a Canadian), regardless of where the person earned his or her bachelor’s (or higher) degree.
Previously, if the degree was not from the United States or Canada, the consulate encouraged applying in the person’s home country. The policy behind this was based upon local resources and knowledge. The U.S. consular officials in Vancouver typically are familiar with degrees from only the U.S. and Canada and do not have the expertise to determine whether a degree from another country is the equivalent of at least a U.S. bachelor’s (four-year) degree, as is required for an H-1B visa.
This change in policy is significant for persons from countries where it’s difficult to get a timely visa interview appointment. For example, it sometimes can take months to get an appointment in India. If you need to travel in a few weeks for just a short time, it could be a better option to get the H-1B visa in Vancouver before traveling home. Keep in mind, however, that you may need a visa to enter Canada.