The U.S. secretary of state, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has authorized consular officers to waive in-person interviews for certain nonimmigrant visa applicants through the end of 2022. Nonimmigrant visa applicants with previous petitions approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may be eligible for this interview waiver if they
- are applying for a temporary nonimmigrant visa in the H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, or Q visa categories;
- “are applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence”;
- “were previously issued any type of visa”;
- “have never been refused a visa unless such refusal was overcome or waived”; and
- “have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility.”
First-time H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q visa applicants with USCIS-approved petitions may also be eligible for waivers of the interview requirement if they are citizens or nationals of countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program and
- they have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility; and
- they have previously used the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) to travel to the United States.
The previously approved policy that permitted interview waivers for F, M, academic J, and H-2 visa applications has also been extended through the end of 2022. Applicants renewing any visa type within 48 months of the visa’s expiration are also eligible for waivers of the interview requirement.
Due to differing local government responses to the ongoing pandemic, the U.S. Department of State encourages visa applicants to check the website of the U.S. consulate that will process the application to confirm the availability of nonimmigrant visa services.
Ogletree Deakins’Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments with respect to these and other policy changes and will post updates on theImmigration blog and in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.