The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has given a temporary final rule that gives consular officials discretion to waive the personal appearance and in-person oath requirement of certain repeat immigrant visa applicants who were given an immigrant visa on or later 4th August 2019. This rule is scheduled to remain in effect through 13th December 2023.
Background of the Immigrant Visa Applicants & Process
Each foreign national applying for an immigrant visa typically must attend a personal interview at a U.S. consular post. Also, check the accuracy under oath of the information provided in the application. After the immigrant visa is given, the individual has a half year to enter the United States before the visa expires. If the individual fails to enter the U.S. before the six-month mark, the foreign national normally must appear at another in-person interview. At the consulate and again affirm the accuracy of the application.
Under normal circumstances, it is relatively rare for a foreign national to be given an immigrant visa and then neglect to enter the United States before the deadline. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, more than 11,000 individuals have been given immigrant visas. That has gone unused. This has exacerbated the backlogs at U.S. consulates. Which already have had relatively few available appointment slots through much of the pandemic.
Criteria for Flexibility Under the Rule
To qualify for relief under this temporary final rule, the candidate should meet ALL of the following requirements:
- Have been given a U.S. immigrant visa on or after 4th August 2019
- Look for an immigrant visa in a similar classification and pursuant to the same approved petition. As the previously given immigrant visa, or an immigrant visa pursuant to the same approved petition as the previously given visa. However, in a different classification, it was automatically converted. Due to the death or naturalization of the petitioner of the previously issued immigrant visa
- Qualify for an immigrant visa in the same classification or another classification. As the result of automatic conversion due to the death or naturalization of the petitioner of the previously given immigrant visa. And pursuant to the same approved petition as the previously given immigrant visa
- Have no changed circumstances that could affect the candidate’s eligibility for the visa
Even if the applicant satisfies all of the above criteria, the consular officer has the discretion to require the individual to appear in person. However, the presumption is that most qualifying applicants by far. It will not be required to attend a second interview at the U.S. consulate to have an immigrant visa reissued.
The temporary final rule should help to ease the backlogs many consulates are currently experiencing. Hopefully, the rule will allow consulates to allocate scarce resources more efficiently based on need and necessity.