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Streamlining Visa Processes: New Interview Waiver Categories Announced

In a move aimed at enhancing efficiency and adapting to evolving needs, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, has identified specific categories for interview waivers deemed to be in the national interest. These changes, effective January 1, 2024, grant consular officers the authority and discretion to waive in-person interviews for certain visa applicants.

The categories eligible for interview waivers include:

  1. First-Time H-2 Visa Applicants: This pertains to temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers seeking H-2 visas.
  2. Other Nonimmigrant Visa Applicants: Individuals applying for any nonimmigrant visa classification who meet the following criteria:
    • Have previously been issued a nonimmigrant visa in any classification, unless the only prior issued visa was a B visa; and
    • Are applying within 48 months of the expiration date of their most recent nonimmigrant visa’s expiration date.

It’s important to note that applicants must meet specific legal requirements to qualify for an interview waiver. The implementation of this authority is set to begin on January 1, 2024, with an annual review process. This policy remains in effect until further notice. Additionally, applicants renewing a nonimmigrant visa in the same classification within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration date will continue to be eligible for interview waivers until further notice.

To be eligible for an interview waiver, applicants must also meet certain criteria, including that they:

  • Apply in their country of nationality or residence.
  • Have never been refused a visa (unless such refusal was overcome or waived).
  • Have no apparent or potential ineligibility.

While consular officers retain the discretion to require in-person interviews on a case-by-case basis or due to local conditions, the overarching aim is to streamline the visa application process. Applicants are encouraged to check embassy and consulate websites for detailed information on visa application requirements, procedures, and updates on the embassy’s operating status and services.

If you have any questions about the in-person interview waiver update, contact our office today to set up a consultation with one of our attorneys!