State Department extends interview waiver policy for certain nonimmigrant visa applicants

27 Dec 22

UNITED STATES

The U.S. State Department extended a policy that grants consular officers the authority to waive in-person interviews for certain temporary employment and academic-based nonimmigrant visa applicants and for any nonimmigrant visa applicants renewing a visa that has expired within the last 48 months.

Key Points:

  • Between now and Dec. 31, 2023, consular officers have the authority to waive the in-person interview requirement for the following nonimmigrant visa applicants:
    • Individual petition-based temporary workers applying for H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P and Q visas.
    • Certain temporary agricultural and nonagricultural workers applying for H-2 visas.
    • Students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars and specialists (F, M and academic J visa applicants).
    • Any nonimmigrant renewing a visa in the same visa classification within 48 months of expiration.
  • To be eligible for the interview waiver, H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, Q, F, M or academic J visa applicants must:
    • Be applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence; and
    • Have previously been issued any visa type; never been refused a visa unless the refusal was overcome or waived; and have no apparent or potential ineligibility; or
    • Be a first-time H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, Q, F, M or academic J visa applicant who is a citizen or national of a Visa Waiver Program country; have previously traveled to the U.S. using an authorization obtained via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization; and have no apparent or potential ineligibility.
  • To be eligible for interview waiver, H-2 applicants must be applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence.
  • Applicants renewing a nonimmigrant visa within 48 months of expiration are eligible for an interview waiver until further notice. Such applicants must generally apply in the consular district of their normal residence.

Additional Information: The State Department continues to advise applicants to check the website of the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate to confirm which services are being offered and to find more information for applying for a visa without an interview.

BAL Analysis: The State Department first introduced the interview waiver policy expansion in March 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The policy was extended in December 2021. While the extension of the interview waiver authorities through 2023 benefits some applicants, consular officers may still require an in-person interview on a case-by-case basis. At this time, visa services at many U.S. embassies and consulates are limited due to closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. BAL continues to monitor the administration’s response to the pandemic and will provide updates as information becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice Group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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