US Visa Interview Waiver Rule

US Visa Interview Waiver Rule

The US Department of State has a specific interview waiver system for non-immigrant visa applications, which has implications for the eligibility of student visa categories.
Commencing on January 1, 2024, the modifications, officially announced in a late December update, signify a determination made by the Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, to designate certain interview exemption categories as being “in the best interest of the nation.” These waivers will remain in effect until further notice, pending annual evaluations.

According to the revised standards, individuals applying for non-immigrant visas, such as student visas, may be eligible for an exemption from the visa interview if they were previously granted a non-immigrant visa (except a B visa) and are submitting their application within 48 months of the expiration of their last visa.
In order to qualify for an interview exemption, applicants must additionally satisfy specific conditions, which include:

  1. Submit an application in the country where they have citizenship or reside.
  2.  Have never encountered a situation where my visa application was denied, unless the refusal was subsequently resolved or waived.
  3. Do not exhibit any visible or possible disqualification.

In late 2021, the US Department of State originally authorized consular officials to exclude some non-immigrant visa applicants, who had previously been given a visa, from the requirement of an interview. The extension of this provision applies to individuals who are first-time applicants from countries participating in the visa-waiver program. The extension is in effect until the conclusion of 2022, with a further renewal that extends until the conclusion of 2023.
Nevertheless, as a result of the latest modifications, interview exemptions for individuals applying for the first time from countries that are eligible for US visa-waiver are no longer accessible.

“Consular officers retain the authority to request in-person interviews on an individual basis or due to local circumstances.” In a statement, the State Department advised applicants to consult embassy and consulate websites for comprehensive information on visa application prerequisites and procedures, as well as to familiarize themselves with the embassy’s operational status and services.

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