Visa Interview Waiver for Certain Applicants
On December 23, 2022, the U.S. Department of State announced that the Secretary of State has extended the authority of consular officers to waive the in-person visa interview requirement through December 31, 2023 for certain first-time and/or renewing applicants. This extension includes a waiver of the requirement for personal appearance for certain applications in the following visa categories: Temporary agricultural and nonagricultural workers (H-2 visas), students (F and M visas), academic exchange visitors (academic J visas), persons in specialty occupations (H-1B visas), trainee or special education exchange visitors (H-3 visas), intracompany transferees (L visas), individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement (O visas), athletes, artists, and entertainers (P visas), participants in international cultural exchange programs (Q visas), and qualifying derivatives.
The authorization to waive the in-person interview for applicants renewing a visa in the same classification within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration was previously authorized to remain in place until further notice.
The State Department credits this move with helping to improve long wait times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as nearly half of the almost seven million nonimmigrant visas the Department issued in Fiscal Year 2022 were adjudicated without an in-person interview. However, the State Department also cautions visa applicants that in-person interviews may still be required in some circumstances and encourages each visa applicant to check the website of the U.S. consulate that will process the application to confirm the availability of nonimmigrant services as local conditions continue to evolve.