The Department of State, in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security, has substantially updated its processing of nonimmigrant visas at US consulates, allowing for more waivers of interviews for nonimmigrant visa to the US, including such as H-1B specialty worker visas, L-1 intracompany transferee visas, E-2 treaty investor visas, E-3 visas for Singaporeans and Australians, F-1 student visas, J-1 exchange visitor visas and O-1 extraordinary ability visas.
Effective January 1, 2024, consular officers now hold the discretion to waive in-person interviews for two key categories of applicants:
- First-time H-2 visa applicants (temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers): This simplifies the entry process for essential workers vital to U.S. industries.
- Nonimmigrant visa applicants fulfilling specific criteria: This category encompasses individuals who:
- Previously held a nonimmigrant visa (excluding B visas) of any category (such as H-1B, L-1A, L-1B, E-2, E-3 F-1, J-1, O-1); and
- Are applying within 48 months of their most recent nonimmigrant visa’s expiration.
Eligibility Considerations: Applicants for the nonimmigrant interview waiver must fulfill all legal requirements for their specific visa category, including submitting a visa application in their country of nationality or residence, having no history of visa refusals (except for those subsequently overcome or waived), and not being subject to any grounds of inadmissibility.
Existing Renewals Remain Streamlined: The existing policy allowing interview waivers for renewals within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration remains in place.
Consular Discretion Matters: While the waiver expands options, consular officers retain the authority to request an interview based on individual circumstances or local conditions.
Staying Informed: Applicants are encouraged to visit their local embassy or consulate website for detailed information on specific visa requirements, procedures, and current operating status.
Please contact Attorney Monique Kornfeld with any questions about this expanded visa interview waiver program.