On December 23, 2021, the US Department of State announced that US consular officers will now be able to waive in-person visa interview requirements for many nonimmigrant visa applicants who have petitions approved by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The visa interview waiver will apply for certain H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q visa applicants effective immediately, and through the end of 2022.
As per the official statement, “As global travel rebounds, we are taking these temporary steps to further our commitment to safely and efficiently reduce visa wait times while maintaining national security as our priority.”
Who is Eligible for an Interview Waiver Under the Department of State Announcement?
Those with petitions approved by USCIS under visa category H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q who are citizens or nationals of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and have previously traveled to the US using an authorization obtained via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ETSA) no longer need to attend an in-person visa interview.
Certain F, M, and academic J visa applicants (students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or specialists) who are citizens or nationals of a VWP-participating country can also waive the interview requirement.
Eligibility criteria for in-person visa interview waiver:
- Petition-based nonimmigrant visa applicants.
- Nonimmigrant visa applicants applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence.
- Nationals or citizens of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) seeking temporary employment nonimmigrant visas.
- Those with a current nonimmigrant visa that is still valid or expired within the last 48 months are also eligible for the visa interview waiver.
H-2 (temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers):
The existing waived visa interview requirement for eligible H-2 visa applicants will now extend until the end of 2022.
Visa Interview Waiver Points to Remember:
- The waiver will apply only to petition-based H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q applicants who were previously issued any type of visa, have never been refused a visa unless the refusal was overcome or waived, and have no apparent or potential ineligibility for the visa.
- Citizens or nationals of a VWP-participating country must have previously traveled to the United States using an authorization obtained via ESTA to qualify for the in-person interview waiver.
- The visa waiver applies only to those who are applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence. Third-country visa applications will not qualify for the interview waiver.
Visa Waiver Program Countries:
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
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