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Consulates Will Waive Visa Interviews for Many H, L, O, P and Q Visas Until the End of 2022

January 03, 2022
Beata Leja

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant delays in scheduling visa interviews at all U.S. Consulates abroad. Fortunately, on December 23, 2021, the U.S. Department of State announced that it will waive the in-person interview requirement for many H, L, O, P and Q visas until December 31, 2022. At the discretion of the U.S. Consulate, the following categories of individuals may have their visa interview waived:

  • Visa applicants applying for an H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P or Q visa;
  • Applying for the visa in their country of nationality or residence (not in a 3rd country);
  • Who were previously issued any type of U.S. visa;
  • Who have never been refused a visa (unless it was overcome or waived thereafter); and
  • Who have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility.

The visa interview waiver may also extend to all first-time H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P and Q visa applicants who:

Based on previous guidance, the visa interview waiver is also applicable in the following cases:

  • F, M, academic J, and H-2 visa applicants;
  • Any visa applicant renewing the same type of visa within 48 months of its expiration.

It is important to remember, however, that U.S. Consulates may still require an in-person interview on a case-by-case basis, even if the applicant falls into a category eligible for visa interview waiver. Further, U.S. consular officers have broad discretion in issuing visas and may initially refuse the visa pursuant to 221(g) or “administrative processing,” which may take weeks or months to clear. As such, and particularly during this pandemic, it is important to be well prepared for the possibility of an interview and for delays in visa issuance and travel to the U.S.

We always recommend that you connect with your attorney well in advance of any travel to ensure you are well prepared and are carrying the necessary documentation to return. If you have any questions about international travel as a nonimmigrant, please contact the attorneys of Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan at 312-427-6163 to schedule a consultation.

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