In-Person Interviews Waived in Certain Cases at U.S. Consulates
According to the latest statement put out by the Department of State (DOS), consular officers will have the authority to waive the in-person interview requirement for individuals applying for a nonimmigrant visa (such as H-1B, L-1, F-1, H-4) in the same classification, and whose previous visas expired within the past 24 months. Previously, only those applicants whose nonimmigrant visa expired within the prior 12 months were eligible for an interview waiver. DOS has temporarily extended this expiration period to 24 months; this policy change is in effect until December 31, 2020.
Consular officers will grant waivers at their discretion. Thus, even if applicants who meet the specified criteria for an interview waiver may be required to appear for an in-person interview at the consulate if the officer determines the necessity. Waivers are not available to applicants who never had a U.S. visa or whose visas expired more than 24 months ago.
This change has been implemented in an effort to allow consular officers to continue processing certain nonimmigrant visa applications while limiting applicants who are required to appear in person, thereby reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread.
Applicants should review the website of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for detailed information on what services are currently available as well as eligibility information and instructions on applying for a visa without an interview.