There’s good news for non-immigrant US visa holders! As of now, waive in-person interviews will be allowed till the end of next year! Many individuals with US visas who fear the process of renewing their US visas will find this to be truly comforting music to their ears. Here’s an insight into this policy.
In collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State has announced that non-immigrant visa applicants, such as international students and temporary workers, may waive in-person interviews until December 31, 2023. This includes those renewing their visas within 48 months of their prior visa’s expiration. Embassies and consulates may still require a case-by-case in-person interview, and applicants are encouraged to check the relevant website for more information. This decision was made to facilitate non-immigrant travel and reduce visa wait times, recognizing the positive impact of these applicants on the US economy. The extension of the visa interview waiver program is intended to help alleviate some of the backlogs in the visa process caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other reasons. The waiting period is quite long due to the backlog as well as the traffic of incoming visa applications. Hence, the visa interview waiver plan is kept in motion to smooth out the US visa application process.
What exactly is it about?
Certain individuals from foreign nations who are renewing their US visas of the same type can avoid the in-person interview requirement at the U.S. Embassy thanks to this visa interview waiver grant. This initiative has been expanded to include certain non-immigrant visas, such as business and tourist visas. Previously, all non-immigrant visa holders seeking to renew their visas were required to attend a mandatory personal interview and provide biometric data. The process of renewing a US visa is similar to that of applying for a US visa. It is no longer necessary to schedule an appointment with the U.S. Embassy to renew a US visa. It means getting a US visa renewed in Dubai is as simple as applying for one as you normally do without having to deal with the jittery process of answering US visa interview questions at the Dubai US Consulate. All you need to do is fill out the application form, submit the required documents, pay the visa fee, and wait for the renewal of your visa to be approved.
Who is eligible?
It is important to note that the visa interview waiver program is unavailable to all US visit visa holders and that not all visas are eligible for the program. Visa applicants who renew their visas and are subject to certain conditions or who meet certain age requirements may schedule an interview waiver appointment. If you are unsure whether you are eligible for the interview waiver, you should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply for your visa. To be eligible for the interview waiver, individuals must meet certain criteria. They must have a prior visa issued within the past 12 months and possess a passport that is machine-readable and valid for at least six months beyond the date of their intended stay in the United States.
The following criteria apply to foreign individuals who can avail themselves of the US visa interview waiver for non-immigrant visa policy:
- Temporary Agricultural and Non-Agricultural Workers visa (H-2 visas)
- Students visa (F and M visas)
- Academic Exchange Visitors visa (academic J visas)
The following categories are also approved for the visa interview waiver program:
- Persons in Specialty Occupations visa (H-1B visas)
- Trainee or Special Education Visitors visa (H-3 visas)
- Intracompany Transferees visa (L visas)
- Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement visas (O visas)
- Athletes, Artists, and Entertainers visas (P visas)
- Participants in International Cultural Exchange Programs visa (Q visas) and qualifying derivatives
Applicants over the age of 80 and children under the age of 14 with parents who have valid non-immigrant visas are exempt from visa interviews.
Only current US visa holders are eligible for the US visa interview waiver plan. You can have any type of visa such as a US immigrant visa, or non-immigrant visa but you must have a valid visa. Those applying for the first time must undergo biometric screening and in-person interviews at the US Embassy. For first-time US visa applicants, the waiting time for interviews can be as long as a year for some foreign citizens, so it is best to consult the official U.S. Embassy website to stay updated on the visa interview status. If you have a valid US tourist visa that is about to expire and are planning a trip to the US in the near future, don’t pass up this opportunity! Check if you are eligible and try to renew it without having to give an interview. Check your passports and renew your visas before December 31, 2023!