WASHINGTON, DC, United States (CMC) — The Biden Administration has extended interview waivers for certain non-immigrant visa applicants from the Caribbean and other regions.
The announcement came as the Government said it recognises the positive impact of travel to the United States by foreign student and temporary work visa holders on the US economy and is committed to facilitating non-immigrant travel and further reducing visa wait times.
“We are pleased to announce that the secretary of state has made a determination extending the authority of consular officers to waive in-person interviews for certain non-immigrant visa categories through December 31, 2023,” said the US Department of State in a statement.
It said consular officers are authorised until then to continue to waive in-person interviews on a case-by-case basis for certain first-time and/or renewing applicants.
The State Department said these categories of visas are for temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers (H-2 visas); students (F and M visas), and academic exchange visitors (academic J visas).
The visa waivers are also extended to certain beneficiaries of approved individual petitions for non-immigrant temporary worker visas in the following categories: Persons in specialty occupations (H-1B visas); trainee or special education visitors (H-3 visas); intra-company transferees (L visas); individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement (O visas); athletes, artists, and entertainers (P visas); participants in international cultural exchange programmes (Q visas); and qualifying derivatives.
The State Department said the interview waiver authorities have reduced visa appointment wait times at many embassies and consulates by freeing up in-person interview appointments for other applicants who require an interview.
It said nearly half of the almost seven million non-immigrant visas the department issued in fiscal year 2022 were adjudicated without an in-person interview.
“We are successfully lowering visa wait times worldwide, following closures during the pandemic, and making every effort to further reduce those wait times as quickly as possible, including for first-time tourist visa applicants,” the State Department said.
It said embassies and consulates may still require an in-person interview on a case-by-case basis and dependent upon local conditions.