On December 23, 2021, the Department of State announced that consular officers are now authorized to waive the in-person interview requirement for certain temporary work visa applicants who have petitions approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This authorization will expire on December 31, 2022. Interviews may be waived for temporary workers applying for the following visa types: H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q. As the authorization requires a USCIS-approved petition, it does not appear to apply to individual visa applications submitted pursuant to approved “L” blankets. In order to qualify, an applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Applicant must be applying for a visa in his or her country of nationality or residence;
- Applicant must have been previously issued any type of visa or, if a citizen of a Visa Waiver Program country, must have previously traveled to the U.S. using the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA);
- Applicant must have never been refused a visa, unless such refusal was overcome or waived; and
- Applicant has no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility.
Importantly, while consular officers have the discretion to waive interviews for applicants meeting the criteria, consular officers are not required to waive visa interviews.