Extension of interview waivers: The U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced extension of the authority of consular officers to waive an in-person interview for certain nonimmigrant visa applicants through December 31, 2023.
Who is eligible for the interview waivers?
During the extended period, consular officers have authorities to waive a visa interview for certain first-time and/or renewing applicants for the following nonimmigrant visas:
- F visa (students)
- H-1B visa (persons in specialty occupations)
- H-2 visa (temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers)
- H-3 visa (trainee or special education visitors)
- J visa (academic exchange visitors)
- L visa (intracompany transferees)
- M visa (students)
- O visa (individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement)
- P visa (athletes, artists, and entertainers)
- Q visa (participants in international cultural exchange program)
- Qualifying derivatives
What is the requirement for the waivers?
To obtain a waiver of the interview, applicants for the nonimmigrant visas must meet certain conditions, including that they are applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence.
Consular officers will also consider the following conditions depending on the visa classifications under the authorities:
- Whether the applicants were previously issued any type of visa, have never been refused a visa unless such refusal was overcome or waived, and have no apparent or potential ineligibility; or
- Whether the applicants are citizens or nationals of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), have no apparent or potential ineligibility, and have previously traveled to the U.S. using an authorization obtained via the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization).
In addition, consular officers have authorities to continue to waive the in-person interviews for applicants renewing a visa in the same classification within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration.
The DOS stated that these interview waivers have reduced visa appointment wait times at many embassies and consulates. According to the DOS, they adjudicated half of the almost seven million nonimmigrant visas they issued in fiscal year 2022 without an in-person interview.
Consular officers have discretion to waive an in-person interview on a case-by-case basis. Thus, they may still require an in-person interview by cases and dependent upon local conditions. It is encouraged that applicants check websites of the embassy and consulate for more detailed information.
You can find the DOS’ announcement on the interview waivers here.