On December 23, 2022, the U.S. Department of State announced that the secretary of state has extended consular officers’ authority to waive the in-person visa interview requirement through December 31, 2023. This extension of the previous authorization includes a waiver of the requirement of a personal appearance for certain applications in the following visa categories:
- Temporary agricultural and nonagricultural Workers (H-2 visas)
- Students (F and M visas)
- Academic exchange visitors (academic J visas)
- Persons in specialty occupations (H-1B visas)
- Trainee or special education exchange visitors (H-3 visas)
- Intracompany transferees (L visas)
- Individuals with extraordinary Ability or Achievement (O visas)
- Athletes, artists, and entertainers (P visas)
- Participants in international cultural exchange programs (Q visas)
- Qualifying derivatives
The previously approved waiver of the in-person interview requirement for applicants renewing any visa type in the same classification within forty-eight months of the prior visa’s expiration remains in place until further notice.
According to the announcement, “[n]early half of the almost seven million nonimmigrant visas the Department issued in Fiscal Year 2022 were adjudicated without an in-person interview,” a fact that the State Department credits with helping to improve long wait times exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The State Department cautions visa applicants that in-person interviews may still be required in some circumstances and encourages each visa applicant to check the website of the U.S. consulate that will process the application to confirm the availability of nonimmigrant services as local conditions continue to evolve.
Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments with respect to these and other policy changes and will post updates on the Immigration blog as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.