What is a US visa interview waiver?
The visa interview waiver is a program managed by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs under which in-person visa interview requirements at US Consulates and Embassies abroad can be waived for certain nonimmigrant visa applicants under some circumstances.
The visa interview waiver is designed for applicants who do not need to appear in person at the Embassy to be fingerprinted and interviewed, and who instead need to submit their visa applications and supporting documents to the Embassy via mail, usually courier services.
In other words, a visa interview waiver allows an individual to get a US visa without an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate. Each US Embassy or Consulate establishes a specific procedure on how applicants can send the visa applications and documents by mail and publishes it on their website.
Who qualifies for a visa interview waiver?
Currently, the following categories of applicants can qualify for the visa interview waiver:
- First-time and visa renewal applicants 80 years of age and older
- First-time and renewal applicants under the age of 14. Children under the age of 14 (before their 14th birthday) are not required to appear in person at the US Embassy or Consulate for an interview
- F, M and academic J visa applicants until December 31, 2023, excluding nationals of China
- H-1, H-3, H-4, non-blanket L, O, P, and Q visa applicants (valid through December 31, 2023)
- First-time and renewal H-2A and H-2B visa applicants
- Renewals in the same category (B1 visa or B2 visa, etc.) and prior visa expired less than 48 months ago
- Individuals traveling to the United States under the visa symbols A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (except personal or domestic employees of accredited officials), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, NATO-5, NATO-6, or TECRO E-1
U.S. Consulates and Embassies abroad are able through December 2023 to waive US visa interviews for certain nonimmigrant visa applications discussed above, making it possible for individuals to apply and obtain a U.S. visa without interview if they meet the conditions described below.
On December 23, 2022, the US Department of State authorized consular officers, stationed at US embassies and consulates abroad, to waive, or in other words choose not to conduct, in-person interviews for certain individual petition-based nonimmigrant work visas and their qualifying derivatives.
The Department of State extended its policy to waive in-person consular interviews for certain nonimmigrant applicants including F, H-1, H-2, H-3, H-4, J, L, M, O, P, and Q through December 31, 2023. The in-person interview waiver for these visas categories can be granted on a case-by-case basis for certain first-time and/or renewing applicants. Regarding interview waiver for renewals of E visas, it is in the discretion of each US Consulate to waive the interview for applicants renewing E-1 visa, E-2 visa or E-3 visa. US Consulate Toronto has implemented an interview waiver procedure for E-2 visa renewals. To learn more, visit our E-2 visa, E-1 visa and E-3 visa.
The authorization to waive interviews is through December 31, 2023. As a reason for the authorization to waive in-person visa interviews, the US Department of State cites its desire to reduce visa wait times in order to facilitate nonimmigrant travel as it recognizes the benefits for the US economy from temporary work visa holders.
While now having the authority to waive visa interviews, US embassies and consulates may still require an in-person interview on a case-by-case basis, depending on local conditions. Applicants are encouraged to check the website of their nearest embassy or consulate for more detailed information about visa issuing services available to them and the operating status of the embassy or consulate.
If you are planning on applying for US visa without interview and obtain a visa interview waiver for any of the following visas: 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), E visas contact our business and immigration lawyers in Miami, Florida USA or schedule a consultation.
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