WASHINGTON: The new US policy of waiving in-person interviews for certain non-immigrant visa applicants becomes operative from Friday, the State Department said.

The department said the move aims at reducing visa wait times as in some places applicants have to wait for more than a year to get an interview date.

“The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in profound reductions in the department’s visa processing capacity,” it said in a statement.

“As global travel rebounds, we are taking these temporary steps to further our commitment to safely and efficiently reduce visa wait times while maintaining national security as our priority.”

State Department says the move aims to shorten visa wait times

From Friday, US consular officers will have the temporary authority to waive in-person interviews for nearly a dozen visa categories, including Persons in Specialty Occupations (H-1B visas), visas for students, temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers, student exchange visitors, as well as athletes, artists and entertainers.

The department said it recognised the positive impact of temporary work visa holders on the US economy and was committed to facilitating nonimmigrant travel and reducing visa wait times.

“We are pleased to announce that consular officers are now temporarily authorised, through December 31, 2022, to waive in-person interviews for certain individual petition-based nonimmigrant work visas and their qualifying derivatives.”

The authorisation to waive the in-person interview for applicants renewing a visa in the same visa class within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration has also been extended indefinitely.

US embassies and consulates may still require an in-person interview on a case-by-case basis and dependent upon local conditions.

Applicants are encouraged to check embassy and consulate websites for more information about this development, as well as current operating status and services.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

No pardon for rape
Updated 07 Feb, 2023

No pardon for rape

Cultural filters and biases can often lead to faulty applications of the law.
Health insurance
07 Feb, 2023

Health insurance

THE planning ministry is reported to have raised objections to Punjab’s flagship universal health coverage...
The people’s demands
07 Feb, 2023

The people’s demands

AS the people of KP are literally on the frontline of the battle against terrorism and violent extremism, they are...
The Musharraf enigma
Updated 06 Feb, 2023

The Musharraf enigma

The Musharraf era holds numerous lessons for Pakistan’s ruling elite, civilian and military.
Staying neutral
06 Feb, 2023

Staying neutral

THE Election Commission of Pakistan has what is perhaps one of the most thankless jobs in the country. The countless...
Wikipedia ban
06 Feb, 2023

Wikipedia ban

THE country was back in a familiar, dark place last week when the PTA blocked Wikipedia over the charge that it...