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