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U.S. Department of State Expands Interview Waivers for Employment-Based and Academic Nonimmigrant Visas
BMK Group

On December 23, 2021, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced that it will extend its policy permitting consular officers to waive in-person interviews for individuals renewing a visa in the same visa class within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration.  This policy is now extended indefinitely.

Additionally, DOS expanded waivers of the in-person interview requirements to include certain individual petition-based nonimmigrant work visas and their qualifying derivatives in the following categories: individuals in Specialty Occupations (H-1B); Trainee or Special Education Visitors (H-3); Intracompany Transferees (L); Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement (O); Athletes, Artists, and Entertainers (P ); and Participants in International Cultural Exchange Programs (Q).  DOS also extended consular officers’ ability to waive the in-person interview for Temporary Agricultural and Non-agricultural Workers (H-2 visas), Students (F and M visas), and Student Exchange Visitors (Academic J visas).  This expanded authorization extends to December 31, 2022.  

Criteria for In-Person Interview Waivers for H-1, H-3, L, O, P, Q, F, M and J visas

For those individuals not applying for the same visa class within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration, under the expanded waiver criteria foreign nationals may still qualify for an interview waiver where:

  1. the individual is the beneficiary of an individual petition approved by USCIS for the H-1, H-3, L, O, P, or Q classification; are seeking student, professor, research scholar, short-term scholar, or specialist classification (F, M, and academic J visa applicants); or are a qualifying derivative;
  1. the individual is applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence;
  1. the individual was previously approved for any type of visa or previously entered the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program; and 
  1. the individual has never been refused a visa and has no apparent ineligibility to obtain a visa.

If you have questions regarding DOS’ recent announcement concerning in-person interview waivers, we encourage you to contact a Barst attorney. For general inquiries or to schedule a consultation, please visit https://barstlaw.com/contact-us/.

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