Ask the Consul

       Answers of the week


April 30, 2010


My husband is an Argentine citizen with legal residence in Mexico and he is interested in obtaining a US visa to vacation in your country. Do Argentine citizens need a visa to travel to the US? If so, what does he need to do to get the visa? – VVPL


Can a Spanish citizen with a passport from the European Community apply for a visa to enter the US? We know that Spain is one of the countries that are in the Visa Waiver Program but we still have to fill out a form every time we wish to enter the US. Can we avoid the online forms by getting a tourist visa from the Consulate? Is this a possibility for a Spanish citizen? - GM


Thank you for your questions about citizens of other countries residing in Mexico, or as we call them third country nationals.  Any third country national legally residing in Mexico may apply for their visa in Mexico, but should be prepared to demonstrate their residency, usually in the form of an FM2 or FM3, as well as their ties to their residence in Mexico.  Dual nationals of Mexico and another country may travel to the Unites States on either passport (either a passport with visa or a visa waiver passport), but must enter and leave the U.S. on the same passport.


As many of you have noted, there are a number of travelers that do not require a visa to enter the U.S.  Those traveling on machine readable passports (those with a code on the biographical page that includes the following symbol on the bottom:  >>>>) from countries in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) traveling for business or pleasure of under 90 days do not need to apply for a visa.  Instead of applying for a visa those travelers must fill out an application for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).  The application is online and takes only a few minutes to fill out basic biographical information.  The authorization is normally valid for 2 years or until the passport expires, whichever is first.  We recommend applying for the ESTA at least 72 hours in advance so that you will have sufficient time to apply for a visa if your ESTA is denied.  A list of VWP countries, frequently asked questions, and the ESTA application is available here:  Those without a machine readable passport, traveling for more than 90 days, or traveling for any other reason including work or study do need to apply for a visa.  Even if you do not need a visa, you always have the option to apply for a visa if you prefer.