The Secretary of State has extended the authority of consular officers to waive in-person interviews through December 31, 2023, for some non-immigrant visas. The Department of State (DOS) believes that having students and temporary work visa holders is good for the United States economy. As a result, they facilitated this change to encourage travel and lower visa times.
Consular officers can waive in-person interviews for those applying for the first time or renewing. However, they will waive this requirement on a case-by-case basis. Eligible non-immigrant visa categories may include the following: Academic Exchange Visitors (academic J), Temporary Agricultural and Non-Agricultural Workers (H-2), and Students (F and M).
It will also include some beneficiaries of approved individual petitions for non-immigrant temporary worker visas. These categories include the following: Trainee or Special Education Visitors (H-3), Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement (O), Persons in Specialty Occupations (H-1B), Participants in International Cultural Exchange Programs (Q), and Intracompany Transferees (L), Athletes, Artists, and Entertainers (P), as well as qualifying derivatives. The Secretary of State has authorized these waivers with the agreement of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
In the past, the authorization necessary to waive the in-person interviews stayed in effect until a notification said otherwise. The past permissions applied to applicants renewing visas with the same classification within two years of the previous expiration.
Since the waivers went into effect, the wait times for visa appointments have declined at many consulates and embassies. As a result, applicants have had an easier time getting appointments.
The DOS issued almost half of the visas adjudicated during the 2022 fiscal year without an in-person interview. As a result, the DOS claimed it has lowered visa times and intends to continue reducing the wait times.
There might still be cases where consulates or embassies require an in-person interview. That said, this will be case-by-case and depend on local conditions. Applicants should check the consulate and embassy websites to obtain more information. The websites will also provide the schedules for the nearest embassy and its provided services.
Employers hiring anyone with these visas must remember to complete the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) for these individuals. However, this process often proves complicated because of the ever-changing regulations. The easiest way to complete Form I-9 is to use an electronic I-9 management system. This system guides employers step-by-step through the process and safely and securely stores the form and documentation for easy retrieval.
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