In the United States, as part of the visa process, the Department of State (DOS) requires individuals 14-79 years of age to appear in person for a formal interview conducted by a consular officer. As it stands wait times for scheduling an interview are quite lengthy at U.S. consulates. Some individuals may qualify to have the interview requirement waived. Learn about the requirements and process in this post.
According to the Foreign Affairs Manual , there are four categories that grant consular officers the ability to waive the interview. They are as follows:
- Visa Renewals – You may receive an interview waiver if the visa you are seeking to renew is in the same class as your previous visa and your prior visa is unexpired or the renewal is within 48 months of expiring. See this section of the FAM. Note that in this case, you should be applying for the visa in the consular district you normally reside in.
- H-2 Visas – If you are applying for either an H-2A or H2B visa and you were issued any NIV in the past (unexpired or renewal is within 48 months of expiration) you may qualify. Other H2 applicants who do not have “associated/potential derogatory information” as determined by the consular officer may qualify. This section of the FAM is going to expire on December 31, 2022 so discuss with your immigration attorney whether you qualify.
- Student/Exchange Visitors – Individuals that are student or exchange visitors with applications for F, M or J visas (not nationals of Nigeria or China) may qualify if they have previously been issued an NIV. Those that are citizens/nationals of a Visa Waiver Program with first-time F, M or J visa applications, with no ESTA denials, have traveled to the U.S. in the past for ESTA authorization and are not suspected of visa misuse or eligibility may qualify. This section of the FAM is going to expire on December 31, 2022.
- H-1, H-3, H-4, non-blanket L, O, P, Q petition-based visas – Applicants for these visas who have previously been issued an NIV; first-time applicants of these visas who are citizens/nationals of a Visa Waiver Program country, ith no ESTA denials, have traveled to the U.S. in the past for ESTA authorization and are not suspected of visa misuse or eligibility may qualify. This is going to expire on December 21, 2022 so check with your immigration attorney if it is still in effect.
If you believe you qualify based on one of the four aforementioned categories, it’s important to speak with your immigration representative. Since each consulate has the right to apply the visa interview waiver at their discretion, it is in your best interest to have all your documents and evidence prepared to show them. We offer consultations to explore the most suitable options for your situation. At the end of the day, you should still be prepared to go through with the in-person interview in case your visa interview waiver is denied.
Check out this complete H1B visa interview guide!