U.S. Department of State Extends In-Person Interview Requirement Waiver for Certain Nonimmigrant Visa Applicants

Dec 23, 2021 | Featured, H-1B, H-4 EAD, Immigration, Nonimmigrant, Visa Bulletin

On December 23, 2021, the U.S. Department of State, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, has authorized consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for certain nonimmigrant visa classifications to expedite visa issuance. The State Department has extended the nonimmigrant visa interview waiver program through December 31, 2022. This authorization applies to temporary workers who are applying for H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P and Q visas and meet specific criteria, 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 individual petition-based H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q 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; or first-time individual petition-based 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), 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).

The Department of State is also extending visa interview waivers for certain students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars or specialists (F, M, and academic J visa applicants) through the end of 2022.  A change made to that authorization is that applicants eligible for the interview waiver because they are nationals or citizens of a country participating in the VWP must have traveled to the United States previously using ESTA to qualify.

While the extension of the interview waiver benefits some applicants, consular officers retain discretion to require an interview. Globally, U.S. consulates have been affected with reduced staffing capacity and have been unable to process employment-based visas at the volume and speed as they were able to before COVID. This new regulation aims to alleviate the stress for US companies who seek to employ foreign nationals from all over the world.

For further information please contact Younossi Law.

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