State Department Extends and Broadens Nonimmigrant Visa Interview Waiver Program in the United States

The U.S. State Department has extended and expanded its visa interview waiver program, effective January 1, 2024, with indefinite continuation and annual reviews. The program now includes eligible first-time H-2 visa applicants and eligible foreign nationals applying for any nonimmigrant visa within 48 months of their prior visa’s expiration (excluding B visitor visas).
A separate interview waiver program for certain visa renewals in the same category within 48 months remains in effect indefinitely.
While U.S. consulates are not obligated to implement these policies, they have the discretion to do so based on local conditions and resources.
Detailed Overview:
The U.S. State Department, in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security, has extended and broadened its nonimmigrant visa interview waiver program for specific applicants. Effective January 1, 2024, the extension and expanded eligibility, subject to annual reviews, aim to streamline the visa application process. Previously extended yearly, the program, scheduled to expire on December 31, 2023, has been perpetuated indefinitely.

Additionally, a distinct program allowing consular officers to waive in-person interviews for individuals renewing nonimmigrant visas within 48 months of expiration remains in force until further notice.

Under the revised program, consular officers are empowered to waive in-person interviews for:

First-time H-2 visa applicants.
Other nonimmigrant visa applicants, applying for any classification, who:
a. Previously held a nonimmigrant visa (excluding B visitor visas).
b. Apply within 48 months of their last nonimmigrant visa’s expiration.
Previously limited to specific categories, the program now extends to a broader range of applicants, eliminating the specific eligibility for first-time applicants from Visa Waiver Program countries as of January 1, 2024.

To qualify for an interview waiver, applicants must:

Apply in their country of nationality or residence.
Have no prior visa refusals (unless overcome or waived).
Exhibit no apparent or potential ineligibility.
Given that U.S. consulates retain the discretion to adopt interview waiver policies, applicants should consult the embassy or consulate’s website for comprehensive information on available services, eligibility criteria, and application instructions without an interview.

Source: Fragomen