Consular Officers May Now Waive Visa Interview Requirement for Eligible F, M, and Academic J Visas Through 2021
September 17, 2021
The Department of State has announced that consular officers are now authorized to waive the visa interview requirement for certain F, M, and Academic J Visas (students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or specialists). This period of increased authorization is set to expire at the end of 2021. Specifics and exceptions are listed below.
- F, M, and Academic J visa applicants who were previously issued any type of visa, have never been refused a visa unless such refusal was overcome or waived, and who have no apparent ineligibility will be considered.
- First time F, M, and J visa applicants who are citizens or nationals of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program and have no apparent ineligibility will be considered. If the applicant’s prior visa was issued when they were under 14 years of age, they may need to submit biometric fingerprints.
- Certain countries may not be eligible to participate or may have to follow additional procedures. To check if your country is eligible, look up the website of the relevant embassy or consulate. The website will also include guidelines for applying for a visa without an interview.
Previously, the Department of State declared certain F and M visa applicants automatically eligible for National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) to COVID-19 travel restrictions. F-1 and M-1 applicants should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate. Academic J-1 applicants and visa holders must contact the nearest embassy or consulate prior to travel to receive an NIE.
The Department of State announcement points out that “Consular resources and local government restrictions vary widely, and each consular section is continuously reviewing its capacity to adjudicate visa applications during this worldwide pandemic and as we address global issues and competing priorities. We encourage applicants to check the website of the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate to confirm the level of services currently offered and to find guidelines for applying for a visa without an interview.”
You may also consult FAQs prepared by Weaver Schlenger on international travel.
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