by Aldo Spicacci
The U.S. Embassy Buenos Aires, Argentina is one of the busiest Consular Posts worldwide. In November of 2016, the US Embassy in Buenos Aires had issued the most number of visas worldwide. Only 2% of NIV applicants are refused and a total of 97% of all visa applications are B-1/B-2 applications. During FY 2016, the Buenos Aires consular section issued 685 immigrant visas and 303,897 nonimmigrant visas.
The post has a very active Fraud-Prevention-Unit. The FPU primarily works on the following case scenarios (1) randomly-selected cases, (2) specific cases derived from 221(g) unit, or (3) cases triggered by anonymous tips via email and the embassy webpage. The FPU is also actively working on preventing visa scams and intermediaries providing false documents to support ties such as corporate documents, paystubs, car titles, deed, etc. The FPU has special information about fraud prevention with a campaign called “No Sea Una Victima” discouraging applicant using any type of intermediaries and false documents .
No DHS Offices in US Embassy in Buenos Aires
There are no USCIS/ICE/CBP offices in the Embassy. The embassy allows direct filing of I-130 under exceptional circumstances. Practitioners should be aware that even in cases were the U.S. citizen was a permanent resident of Argentina living together with the applicant, the post will not allow the direct filing.
- Send the packet with cover letter, the approval notice if it is a NIV and the file including the I-129 and the Attorney letter in support of the case.
- Submit a full copy of the petition for NIV (other than B1/B2s) if you did not send a duplicated copy when originally filled before USCIS.
- Read Embassy website special rules regarding annotated B1 visas such as Domestic Employees and B1 in Lieu of H1B, Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor Visas, and Global Entry Program.
- Submit ties evidence related only to the applicant when overcoming the 214b presumption. I-134s or Additional Financial Support Document are usually not provided high deference.
- Don´t file a motion to reconsider a denial since the Buenos Aires Embassy does not accept motions for reconsideration.
- Don´t file administrative review of a denial since the Buenos Aires consulate will only review the case when a new application is filed and the case is assessed for a new adjudication.
Nonimmigrant Visa Procedure
- The standard waiting time for B-1/B-2 visas is 5 weeks and 2s week for all other NIV.
- There is a request for expedited scheduling available, but it should be well documented by considerable evidence related to an urgency case, like medical treatments, etc.
- There is no a formal process for Waivers under 212(d)(3) at the Buenos Aires post. Usually, the consular officer will point out to the applicant if there is any ground of inadmissibility that may be waivable during the interview and the applicant can ask for the waiver verbally during the interviewing. Once the applicant makes the option to apply for the waiver verbally or in case the applicant submits the attorney’s packet including the waiver in lieu of the verbal statement of the applicant, the consular officer will further process it immediately along with the consular officer´s opinion. The waiver should be submitted and/or argued at the interview.
- The process for E1/E2 visas is electronic filing. There is a 70-page limit and 20 MB-limit in PDF format. The treaty visa unit can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. The interview is usually scheduled 2 weeks after the e-filing. Even though there is not a statutory minimum amount of investment, the consulate has described examples and referenced that the minimum amount considered as suitable investment is approximately 250,000 dollars. Nevertheless, this writer has been successful with E2 visas application with investment around 150,000 dollars.
- The Embassy in Buenos Aires welcomes Third Country Nationals, but it will require to overcome the 214b presumption during the interview.
- Argentina has been enrolled in the “Global Entry Program” since 2017. Argentinean nationals may apply in Argentina.
Immigrant Visa Procedure
- Current processing time after NVC Review is about 1 month.
- Expedite Request Procedure is available if special circumstances are demonstrated by substantial evidence.
- Medical Exam will be performed within 2 weeks. The beneficiaries will be given a list of doctors by the Embassy when contacted after receiving the file.
- Usually, the IV section will review the case and will contact the beneficiary sending an email detailing the procedure, requesting the missing documents not submitted to NVC timely and Medical Exam Requirements.
- During the interview, the consular officer will review the file along with the beneficiary and if approved they will issue the travel documents packet within 10-12 days to be picked up at the DHL office chosen by the beneficiary.
- The IV unit can be contacted to BuenosAires-IV@state.gov.
Other Practical Considerations
- The Ambassador post in Buenos Aires is vacant and the DCM is the acting Ambassador.
- Both the CG and the Visa Chief has been replaced last July, so they are more likely to start applying new criteria/policies in the near future.
- The Consul General name is Mark Leoni and the Visa Chief is Robert Neus. The consul general email is BNS-CG@state.gov.
- The email contact for 221g section is BNS-221G@state.gov
- The email contact for the Fraud Prevention unit is BNS-FPU@state.gov
- The Buenos Aires consulate does process Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) via the American Citizen Services office. They can be contacted at BuenosAires-ACS@state.gov. They pay special attention to the U.S. Citizen 5 years physical presence in the United States rule.
- Criminal Record Certificates for any immigration purposes at the Buenos Aires consulate must be done with “Art. 51 exception”, which means that applicant records search will reflect criminal background from birth to date.
- Practitioner should be aware that the interviewing officer might not accept the attorney’s packet during the interview for certain NIVs.
- Consular officers during visa interviews, as well as local staff, are not likely to identify themselves. You may be able to obtain initials.
- Attorneys should be aware that the consulate will frequently contact the applicant directly without sending courtesy copy to the attorney-of-record.
- When pending a 221(g), practitioners should be also aware that local staff might contact the petitioner, the employer, the accountant or any other person named within the packet to inquire about specific information regarding the case.
- The consular post also checks local databases such as AFIP (equivalent to IRS), ANSES (similar to SSN), local credit report companies, petitioner and beneficiary webpage, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
- When applying for F1, J1 and E2 visa, the practitioner should also be prepared to overcome 214(b) since we have seen some denials based on 214(b).
- Attorneys are usually not permitted to be present during a visa interview, but it will depend on the interviewing consular officer adjudicating the case. Consular officers may discuss immigrant visa questions with attorneys, but generally will not discuss individual nonimmigrant visa denials.