Department of State Extends Waiver for In-Person Consular Interviews for Certain Nonimmigrants
December 27, 2021
The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, has announced that it has extended the waiver for in-person consular interviews for certain employment nonimmigrant visa applicants who have petitions approved by USCIS, as well as their qualifying derivatives, through December 31, 2022.
This new authorization applies to temporary workers and their qualifying derivatives in the following categories: H-1B, H-3, L, O, P, and Q visas who meet certain conditions, including that they are applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence. Under this authority, consular officers have discretion to waive the visa interview requirement for applicants who were previously issued any type of visa, and who have never been refused a visa unless such refusal was overcome or waived, and who have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility. Consular officers also have discretion to waive interviews for 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 and have previously traveled to the United States using an authorization obtained via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
In addition, the Secretary extended previously approved policies to waive the visa interview for certain students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or specialists (F, M, and academic J visa applicants), as well as for certain H-2 applicants, through the end of 2022. Applicants renewing any visa within 48 months of expiration are also eligible for interview waiver.
Note: this authority to waive interviews is subject to local authority; consular resources and local government restrictions continue to vary widely, and each consular section is continuously weighing its capacity to adjudicate visa applications with competing priorities during this worldwide pandemic. Therefore, applicants should 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.