The Department of State, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, authorized consular officials to waive the in-person interview requirement for certain nonimmigrant visa applicants with petitions approved by Citizenship Services. and United States Immigration (USCIS).
For starters, the Department of State has extended its previous policy of allowing consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for foreign nationals applying for a nonimmigrant visa in the same classification as previously issued. and whose visa expired within the past 48 years. month. This authority has been extended indefinitely.
Until December 31, 2022, however, additional options are available for H-1, H-3, L, O, P, and Q visa applicants who would not otherwise meet the above criteria. Under this expanded policy, consular officers may waive the in-person interview requirement for temporary workers applying for H-1, H-3, L, O, P, and Q visas who meet the following conditions :
- are applying in their country of nationality or residence;
- have been issued any type of visa in the past;
- Has never been refused a visa before, unless this refusal has been overcome or lifted;
- Have no apparent or potential ineligibility for a visa.
H-1, H-3, L, O, P, and Q visa applicants who are citizens or nationals of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program are eligible for the same interview waiver, provided the applicant has previously traveled to the United States using authorization obtained through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and has no apparent or potential ineligibility for a visa.
The Department of State has also extended its interview waiver policy to certain students, professors, researchers, short-term scholars, and specialists (F, M, and J scholar visa applicants) through December 31, 2022. These applicants must have been previously issued. any type of visa, must never have been denied a visa (unless overcome or revoked), and must not have any apparent or potential ineligibility to qualify for an interview waiver. F, M and Academic J visa applicants from countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program must also have previously traveled to the United States via a valid ESTA authorization in order to qualify for this interview waiver.
Finally, the Department of State’s prior authorization to waive the physical interview for certain H-2 visa applicants (temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers) has also been extended through December 31, 2022.
This policy is discretionary and consular offices may still require in-person interviews on a case-by-case basis. As such, it is important that applicants monitor the consulate’s websites for the most up-to-date information on its interview waiver policies. Travelers should also be aware of the State Department’s COVID-19 vaccination policy. Currently, all air travelers who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. immigrants (i.e., who are not U.S. nationals, lawful permanent residents, or traveling to the United States with an immigrant visa) must show proof that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19[feminine[feminineAND provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of boarding a flight to the United States. There will be very limited exceptions to this policy.
This is good news for visa applicants at U.S. consulates abroad, who may have had difficulty obtaining appointments due to long backlogs and/or avoided travel altogether. For more information on these maintenance waiver policies, please visit this Department of State web page.