State Department Expands and Extends Nonimmigrant Visa Interview Waiver Program through December 31, 2022
The U.S. Secretary of State, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has expanded and extended its nonimmigrant visa interview waiver program through December 31, 2022. Consular officers have discretion to waive the interview for:
1) Nonimmigrant visa applicants if they:
- are applying for a temporary nonimmigrant visa in the H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, or P categories and have an individual petition approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS);
- are applying for a temporary nonimmigrant visa in the Q, F, M, or academic J visa categories;
- are applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence;
- were previously issued any type of visa;
- have never been refused a visa unless such refusal was overcome or waived; and
- have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility.
2) First-time H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, or P visa applicants who have an individual petition approved by USCIS, or Q, F, M, or academic J visa applicants, if they are citizens or nationals of countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program and:
- they have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility; and
- they have previously used the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) to travel to the United States.
3) Applicants renewing any visa type within 48 months of the visa’s expiration.
Please note that the visa interview waiver expansion appears not to include individuals applying for an L-1 visa under an approved blanket petition.
Due to differing local government responses to the ongoing pandemic, visa applicants should check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate that will process the application to confirm the availability of nonimmigrant visa services and guidelines for applying for a visa without an interview. Individual consular posts will have discretion on whether and how to implement the visa interview waiver expansion guidelines.