We have very exciting news for nonimmigrant visa applicants. Today, December 23rd, the Department of State announced that the agency has granted Consular officers the discretionary power to waive the in-person interview requirement for certain temporary employment nonimmigrant visa applicants, provided such applicants have a petition approved by USCIS. This new discretionary power will apply to temporary workers applying for H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q visas who are applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence.
Interview Waiver Policy for Certain Nonimmigrant Workers
Pursuant to this new policy, Consular officers now have the discretion to waive the visa interview requirement for:
- individual petition-based H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q applicants who were previously issued any type of visa, and that have not had any visa refusal or ineligibility issues in the past OR
- first-time individual petition-based H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q who are citizens or nationals of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), provided that they have no ineligibility issues and have previously traveled to the United States using an authorization obtained via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)
Interview Waiver Policy for Certain F, M, and academic J visa applicants
At the same time, the Secretary of State has extended a previously approved policy designed to waive the in-person interview requirement for certain students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or specialists (F, M, and academic J visa applicants) through the end of 2022.
To be eligible for the interview waiver as citizens or nationals of a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program, applicants must (1) have previously traveled to the United States using an authorization obtained via ESTA and (2) must apply for a visa in their country of nationality or residence.
Additionally, just like the policy applied to certain non-immigrant workers, Consular officers will also have the discretion to waive the visa interview requirement for:
- F, M, and academic J visa applicants who were previously issued any type of visa, and that have not had any visa refusal or ineligibility issues in the past OR
- first-time F, M, and academic J visa applicants that are (1) citizens or nationals of a country that participates in VWP and (2) that have previously traveled to the United States via an ESTA authorization, and that have not had any visa ineligibility issues in the past
Interview Waivers for certain H-2 Agricultural Workers and Visa Renewal Applicants
Furthermore, the Department of State has also extended the previous authority allowing Consular officers to grant waivers of the in-person interview requirements of certain H-2 (temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers) applicants through the end of 2022.
Applicants renewing any visa within 48 months of expiration are also eligible for interview waiver.
How will this work in practice?
The Department of State has said that the waiver of in-person interviews for the above-mentioned categories of nonimmigrants will vary widely. Each Consular section will continuously review its capacity to adjudicate visa applications during the global pandemic and balance its priorities. The agency recommends that applicants check the website of their U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad for information regarding the interview waiver procedures, guidelines, and services being provided to apply for a visa without an interview.
For a list of Consulates and Embassies please click here.
Questions? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.
- List of U.S. Embassies and Consulates
- Important Announcement on Waivers of the Interview Requirement for Certain Nonimmigrant Visas
- January 2022 Visa Bulletin
- Immigrant Visa Backlog Report
- DOS Visa Services Operating Status Update
- ImmigrationU Membership
- Success stories
- Youtube channel
JOIN OUR NEW FACEBOOK GROUP
Need more immigration updates? We have created a new facebook group to address the impact of the new executive order and other changing developments related to COVID-19. Follow us there.
For other COVID 19 related immigration updates please visit our Immigration and COVID-19 Resource Center here.