Listen to this post

On December 21, the Department of State announced changes to the power consular officers have to waive personal visa interviews for nonimmigrant visa (NIV) applicants. Under the new guidelines, will remain in place indefinitely, consular officers are now authorized to waive personal visa interviews for

  • First-time applications: H-2 temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers;
  • Other applications – applicants with a previously approved visa: NIV applicants applying in any other NIV category who were previously issued a nonimmigrant visa in any classification if the applicant is applying within 48 months of their most recent nonimmigrant visa’s expiration date may have their interview waived at the discretion of the consular officer, unless the only prior visa was a B visitor/business visa. 

What has changed
There are three significant changes in these new criteria: 

  1. The interview waiver guidelines are now in place indefinitely; previously the Department of State had to renew the guidelines every year:
  2. Consular authority to waive visa interviews has been expanded to cover all nonimmigrant categories;
  3. But the new guidelines now restrict visa waiver eligibility for individuals whose only previously approved US visa is in the B visa category. Such individuals were previously able to have their visa interviews waived under the former guidelines, but that is not allowed under the new rules.

What has not changed
As before, applicants seeking to benefit from the waiver of the NIV interview requirement must be applying in their country of nationality or residence, have never been refused a visa unless that refusal was overcome or waived, and must have no other apparent or potential ineligibility. eligibility.

Also, the actual implementation of the visa waiver criteria varies from location to location, with many offices imposing additional restrictions on which applicants automatically get their visa interview waived, so applicants should always check the visa application portal of the location where they are applying.

Employers with employees who believe they might be eligible for a waiver of their visa interviews, as well as individuals seeking to benefit from the new criteria, should contact their HuntonAK attorney to confirm their interview waiver eligibility.