DOS Expands Interview Waiver Eligibility for Certain Applicants Renewing Non-Immigrant Visas


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We are happy to report that the Department of State has released important information for nonimmigrant visa applicants who may qualify for an interview waiver. That’s right. Certain nonimmigrant visa applicants will now be eligible to obtain a renewal of their visas without being required to attend a Consulate interview.

Who may take advantage of Non-Immigrant Visa Interview Waivers?

The Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has consulted with the Department of Homeland Security, and temporarily expanded the ability of Consular officials to waive the in-person interview requirement, which is normally required of all individuals seeking nonimmigrant visas in the same visa classification – in other words renewal applicants.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, interview waivers were only available to those applicants whose nonimmigrant visa was set to expire within 24 months.

The Secretary has now temporarily extended the Interview Waiver eligibility to those whose visas are set to expire within 48 months. This new policy will be in effect until December 31, 2021.

According to the Department of State, “This change will allow consular officers to continue processing certain nonimmigrant visa applications, while limiting the number of applicants who must appear at a consular section, thereby reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission to other applicants and consular staff.”

To determine if you are eligible for an interview waiver you must review the website of your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate which will contain information on eligibility and instructions for how to apply for your visa without an interview. Applicants may also email the U.S. Embassy or Consulate directly.

As a reference point, generally those who have had a nonimmigrant visa in the past are considered renewing applicants and may qualify to have their interview waived. Qualified applicants are only required to appear at the Applicant Service Center, and do not need to attend a Consular Interview.

The following instructions for interview waivers have been posted on the U.S. Embassy website for Mexico.

  • Renewing applicants –Applicants who are Mexican or third-country nationals (residing in Mexico with FM2 or FM3 status) whose fully valid BCC, BBBCV, B1/B2, C1/D, F, H, I, J, L1, M, O, P, R and TN visas have expired within the last 24 months*.
  • The applicant MUST have the previous visa and have never been arrested or convicted of a crime, deported from the United States, denied entry to the United States, or had any other problems or difficulties with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol when attempting to enter the United States. (*Note: The Department of State has temporarily authorized the waiver of the in-person interview requirement for applicants applying for a visa in the same class where the prior visa expired less than 24 months ago.)

For a complete list of U.S. Embassy and Consulate websites please click here.

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