On December 21, the U.S. Department of State announced that for 2024 it would continue to waive the requirement of consular interviews for certain nonimmigrant visa applications. However, the 2024 waiver requirements are broader and narrower than the 2023 requirements. The 2024 requirements, which took effect January 1, generally apply to the following (quoted from the State Department announcement, with minor edits):
First-time H-2 visa applicants (temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers).
Others applying for any nonimmigrant visa classification who
Were previously issued any nonimmigrant visa except a B visa, and
Are applying within 48 months of the expiration date of their most recent nonimmigrant visa.
For 2023, more limited categories were eligible for interview waivers, including students, academic (J) Exchange Visitors, and employment-based and other categories. However, waivers were available for first-time applications as well as renewal applications, and the 48-month time limitation did not apply.
For 2024, all nonimmigrant visa applications except B (Business or Visitor) are eligible for the waiver, but they are limited to renewals unless in the H-2 category, and the visa application must have been made no more than 48 months after the expiration date of the most recent nonimmigrant visa.
The current authorization will be reviewed annually and will remain in place until further notice.
Additional eligibility requirements for the interview waiver
In addition to the criteria described above, applicants seeking waivers must “apply in their country of nationality or residence, have never been refused a visa (unless the refusal was overcome or waived), and have no apparent or potential ineligibility.” (From the State Department announcement, with minor edits.)
Consular discretion remains
The State Department adds the caveat that consular officers have the discretion to require in-person interviews on a case-by-case basis or because of local conditions. The announcement reminds applicants to check the websites of the applicable embassy or consulate for more detailed information about visa application requirements to be sure that interview waivers are available.
The interview waiver policy plays an important part of the State Department’s efforts to expedite the visa application process. The interview requirement can take time and can delay adjudication. Again, applicants should check with the applicable U.S. embassy or consulate to determine whether, and to what extent, the interview waiver policy has been implemented.
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