State Department Extends Nonimmigrant Visa Interview Waiver Program Through 20233 min read
The State Department, in meeting with the Department of Homeland Security, has reported a one-year extension of its nonimmigrant visa interview waiver program for specific temporary workers, students, and exchange visitors, through 31st December 2023. On December 31, 2022, the program was supposed to end.
In addition, consular officers are still authorized to waive in-person interviews for individuals applying for a nonimmigrant visa in the same classification under a separate program that will remain in effect until further notice if the individual’s previous visa had expired within the last 48 months.
U.S. consular posts are permitted to adopt interview waiver policies at their discretion; They are not obligated to implement these regulations. Consult the websites of U.S. consulates to determine whether and to what extent a particular post is implementing an interview waiver program.
US Extends Nonimmigrant Visa Interview Waiver Program
For certain individual petition-based H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q visa applicants, as well as F, M, and academic J visa applicants, the program extension grants U.S. consular officers the authority to waive the in-person interview requirement until December 31, 2023. The following measures apply to these visa types to meet all requirements for an interview waiver:
- Foreign nationals must apply in their country of nationality or residence; and
- Foreign nationals must meet all of the criteria in one of the following two categories:
- Previously given any kind of visa. Applicants who were previously issued any type of visa may qualify if:
- They have never been refused a visa unless such refusal was overcome or waived; and
- They have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility to obtain a visa.
- First-time applicants. First-time applicants who are citizens or nationals of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), provided they:
- Have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility to obtaining a visa; and
- Have previously traveled to the United States under the VWP using ESTA.
Previous authority for the interview waiver of certain H-2 workers has also been extended to 31st December 2023.
In addition, people who are applying for any kind of nonimmigrant visa in the same category and whose visa has expired within the last 48 months are still eligible for consular officers to waive the requirement for an in-person interview. Consulates have access to this authority at all times. Under the standard pre-Coronavirus program, only candidates reestablishing nonimmigrant visas that expired within the past 12 months were eligible for an interview waiver.
What this means
After reviewing the visa application, consular officers may decide it is necessary to refer the applicant for an interview even if a consular post implements the interview waiver program and the applicant meets the above requirements. Foreign nationals should build flexibility into their visa application plans.
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The actual implementation of the program will be the responsibility of each local consulate. Because U.S. consulates are not required to implement the new interview waiver policies. Applicants are encouraged to review the website of the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate for detailed information on currently available services. As well as eligibility information and instructions on applying for a visa without an interview.