The US State Department announced on Thursday that through next year, consular officers will be able to forego in-person interviews for H-1B and other non-immigrant visa applicants, reducing visa wait periods.
According to a statement, “the Covid-19 epidemic led in substantial reductions in the department’s visa processing capabilities.”
“As global travel picks up, we’re taking these interim steps to keep our goal to reducing visa wait times securely and effectively while protecting national security as our top concern.”
Nearly a dozen visa categories, including Persons in Specialty Occupations, will now have in-person interviews waived temporarily by consular authorities.
(H-1B visas), student visas, temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers visas, student exchange visiting visas, and visas for athletes, artists, and entertainers .
The full list of visa categories can be found at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/important-announcement-on-waivers-of-the-interview-requirement-for-certain-nonimmigrant-visas.html.
The authorization to waive the in-person interview for applicants renewing a visa in the same visa class within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration has also been extended indefinitely, according to the state department.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the US State Department discontinued all normal visa services in most countries worldwide in March 2020.