Important Announcement on Waivers of the Interview Requirement for Certain Nonimmigrant Visas

By December 30, 2021 News

Important Announcement on Waivers of the Interview Requirement for Certain Nonimmigrant Visas 

Ref: News Update from Depart of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs 12/23/2021

The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, has authorized consular officers through the end of 2022 to waive the in-person interview requirement for certain temporary employment nonimmigrant visa applicants who have a petition approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Who are eligible for the in-person visa interview waiver according to the new authorization?
To temporary workers applying for H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q visas who meet certain conditions, including that they are applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence.

What are the basic eligibility criteria for the in-person visa interview waiver?

  • The Beneficiary must have previously been issued any type of non-immigrant VISA (e.g., H1, H4, F1, B1, B2, L1, O, P etc.,)
  • The Beneficiary was never refused/denied a visa (if the Visa is ever refused then refusal should have overcome by filing a Waiver)
  • The Beneficiary should not have any other grounds of ineligibility for Non-issuance of a Visa
  • Individuals applying for the First – time under (H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q) categories who are nationals of countries who participate in Visa Interview Waiver program (VWP) and have previously travelled to the United States using an authorization obtained via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) {provided that there is no other ineligibility} – Please note India doesn’t fall under VWP participating nations.

How long is this in-person visa interview waiver applicable till?

Till December 31, 2022 – unless any further extensions are grated or

Who else is eligible for in-person visa interview waiver?

  • Applicants renewing any visa within 48 months of expiration are also eligible for interview waiver.
  • Certain H-2 (temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers)
  • Certain Students, Professors, Research scholars, Short-term scholars, or Specialists (F, M, and academic J visa applicants) 

I am from a country which participates in VWP, what are the changes to – “visa interview waiver program” which was previously granted – comparing to this new policy?

The only changes from the previous policy are applicants eligible for the waiver authority because they are citizens or nationals of a VWP participating country must have previously traveled to the United States using an authorization obtained via ESTA to qualify.  Applicants must apply for a visa in their country of nationality or residence.

My home country is India, but I wish to apply for H-1B visa through the US consulate in Canada / Mexico – Can I avail the “Visa Interview Waiver”?

NO – The new Authorization mandates applying for a Visa in the country of nationality or residence.

My home country is India, I never had any type of Non-Immigrant VISA in the past. I had my H-1B approved under 2022 CAP through ‘X’ employer. Will I be eligible for “Visa Interview Waiver”?

NO – The new Authorization did not make any provisions for First time applicants who are not nationals of VWP participation countries. You may be required to Physically attend a VISA interview.

My home country is India, I had F1 visa in the past and did my MS in the USA. I have applied for COS to H-1B which got approved in 2021 CAP. I wish to travel to India for my marriage around Jan 2022, Can I avail the “VISA Interview Waiver”? Also, can I parallelly apply for my Future Spouse H4 visa?

“Yes” you may be eligible for the “Visa Interview Waiver” as long as you do not have any other ineligibility for non-issuance of a VISA and otherwise never denied a VISA in the past.
However, because your spouse would be the first time H4 applicant. She may need to physically show up for the Visa interview.

My Father’s B2 Visa expired in December 2020. He is now willing to renew his B2 Visa, can he avail the “Visa Interview Waiver”?

“Yes” – Because he is applying for a RENEWAL within 48 months of expiry of his old Visa and in the same category. (Provided that he does not have any other ineligibility for non-issuance of a VISA and otherwise never denied a VISA in the past.)
**Please note: Visa Interview Waiver is the sole discretion of the Consulate Officer* Irrespective of the Waiver Eligibility the Officers can request any individual for personal interview if they deem it appropriate.

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