When should I apply for a visa if I want to travel this summer?

Summer is quickly approaching.  Children will soon be out of school for the long break.  Families are planning for summer travel.  Amidst all the pondering, web searching and planning, if you would like to travel to the United States, it’s important to consider whether you need to obtain or renew your tourist visa.  If you are a Mexican citizen and don’t have dual citizenship in the United States or one of the countries in the Visa Waiver Program, then you do need a visa.  Regardless of whether you are a first time applicant or are renewing, the process for obtaining a visa will take at least three weeks and as long as several months or more, in certain circumstances.  This is why it is essential that you start the application process now.  Do you have a valid Mexican passport?  If not, that’s your first step, visit www.sre.gob.mx for information.  To apply for or renew a visa, here is the process as it is laid out on the website of the Consulate General in Merida (http://merida.usconsulate.gov/visas.html)

Step 1: Complete the DS-160 online application.

Step 2: Pay the application fee and schedule your appointments at the Applicant Service Center and at the Consulate (these will be on two separate days).  If you’ve had a visa in the past and it expired within the past four years you may be eligible to renew your visa without an interview at the Consulate.

Step 3: Appear at the Applicant Service Center where they will take your photo and fingerprints.

Step 4: Appear at Consulate for a personal interview.  All travelers over 6 years old need to be at the interview.

Step 5: If approved, go to DHL Office to pick up your passport and visa (usually about three weeks after your interview).

Check now to see if your visa already expired.  The date of expiration is read in U.S. format, month/day/year.  For example, if the expiration date reads 1/12/13, then your visa already expired on January 12th and must be renewed prior to travel.

We hope that your summer travel plans include to the United States, and encourage you to secure your visas as early as possible!