US extends interview waiver for certain non-immigrant visa categories

Department of State recognises positive impact of travel to US by foreign students and temporary work visa holders on US economy

Washington: The US on Friday (local time) extended the interview waiver facility for certain non-immigrant visa applicants.

“We are pleased to announce that the Secretary of State has made a determination extending the authority of consular officers to waive in-person interviews for certain non-immigrant visa categories through December 31, 2023, read the US Department of State press release.

It said the Department of State recognises the positive impact of travel to the United States by foreign students and temporary work visa holders on the US economy.

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The Department of State also said it is committed to facilitating non-immigrant travel and reducing visa wait times.

“Consular officers are authorised, through December 31, 2023, to continue to waive in-person interviews on a case-by-case basis for certain first-time and/or renewing applicants,” added the release.

The categories of visas included are — Temporary Agricultural and Non-Agricultural Workers (H-2 visas), Students (F and M visas), and Academic Exchange Visitors (academic J visas), and certain beneficiaries of approved individual petitions for non-immigrant temporary worker visas in the following categories: Persons in Specialty Occupations (H-1B visas), Trainee or Special Education Visitors (H-3 visas), Intracompany Transferees (L visas), Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement (O visas), Athletes, Artists, and Entertainers (P visas), and Participants in International Cultural Exchange Programs (Q visas); and qualifying derivatives.

These waivers were authorised by a determination of the Secretary of State with the concurrence of the Department of Homeland Security.

The authorisation to waive the in-person interview for applicants renewing a visa in the same classification within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration was previously authorized to remain in place until further notice, said the release.

The interview waiver authorities have reduced visa appointment wait times at many embassies and consulates by freeing up in-person interview appointments for other applicants who require an interview.

Nearly half of the almost seven million non-immigrant visas the Department issued in Fiscal Year 2022 were adjudicated without an in-person interview.

“We are successfully lowering visa wait times worldwide, following closures during the pandemic, and making every effort to further reduce those wait times as quickly as possible, including for first-time tourist visa applicants,” said the release.

However, embassies and consulates may still require an in-person interview on a case-by-case basis, depending on local conditions.

“We encourage applicants to check embassy and consulate websites for more detailed information about this development, as well as current operating status and services,” stated the release.

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