News & Insights

Department of State announces waiver of interviews for certain non-immigrant visas

Obtaining an interview at almost any consulate outside of the U.S. has been almost impossible due to the ongoing pandemic and as a result, many have been left unable to return to the U.S.

To help facilitate the issuance of visas and clear the backlog, the Department of State announced that they would waive the interview requirement for certain non-immigrant visas. This announcement was made at the end of 2021, with immediate effect, throughout the end of 2022.

This means that Consular officers can now waive the interview for individuals applying for an H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P and Q visas, provided that certain criteria is met.  To qualify for a waiver an applicant must be able to demonstrate the following:

  1. They are applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence;
  2. They have been previously issued any type of visa;
  3. They have never been refused a visa unless such refusal was overcome or waived; and
  4. They have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility.

In addition to the above first-time applicants of H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P and Q visas, who are citizens of countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program can also apply, provided they have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility and have previously traveled to the U.S. using ESTA.  For a list of countries that fall under the Visa Waiver program please see the link below:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visa-waiver-program.html

The interview waiver has also been extended through the end of 2022 for F, M, J & H-2 applicants.  Applicants renewing any visa within 48 months of expiration are also eligible for a waiver.

The above waivers apply to Indian applicants, as confirmed on the U.S. Embassy & Consulates website:

https://in.usembassy.gov/visas/

For questions related to the above please reach out to PLG Partner Chris Prescott at cprescott@patellegal.com.

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