US waives in-person interviews for certain visas through 2022
On Dec. 23, the U.S. State Department announced consular officers can waive requirements in 2022 for in-person interviews for H-1B and other non-immigrant visa applicants.
Officials also extended a current interview waiver for certain H-2 applicants. The State Department hopes the move helps reduce a massive backlog in visa processing.
The order includes nearly a dozen visa categories
U.S. officials acknowledge that the pandemic greatly reduced their ability to process visa applications. The department says these steps should reduce wait times without compromising national security. The temporary waiver affects these non-immigrant visas and affected individuals:
- H-1: Specialty occupations, including doctors, professors and IT specialists
- H-2: Temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers
- H-3: Special education visitors
- H-4: Dependents of H visa holders
- L: Intracompany transferees and their dependents
- O: Persons with extraordinary abilities, their assistants and dependents
- P: Athletes, artists, entertainers and dependents
- Q: Individuals involved in cultural exchange programs
- F: Students
- M: Vocational and non-academic students
- J: A wide variety of exchange categories from au pairs to scholars
Applicants must meet certain conditions for eligibility. That includes H-1, H-3, H-4, O, P and Q applicants previously issued any type of visa andthose never refused a visa unless they were successful on appeal. First-time applicants in those categories are also eligible if their home country participates in the Visa Waiver Program.
Waivers for renewals also extended
The State Department also said in-person interview waivers will be extended indefinitely for those renewing their current visa within 48 months of the expiration date. Officials will likely reconsider these rules next fall.