The US State Department announced on Thursday that it was temporarily easing the requirements on in-person interviews for people seeking work visas.
Applicants for H-1B, L-1 and O-1 visas are typically required to visit a US mission for an interview, the final step in the visa application process.
The State Department announced that consular officers will be allowed to waive the in-person interview requirement to reduce visa wait times.
The State Department announced, “The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in profound reductions in the department’s visa processing capacity... As global travel rebounds, we are taking these temporary steps to further our commitment to safely and efficiently reduce visa wait times while maintaining national security as our priority.”
The waivers will be in force until December 31 next year and will apply to “Persons in Specialty Occupations (H-1B visas), Trainee or Special Education Visitors (H-3 visas), Intracompany Transferees (L visas), Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement (O visas), Athletes, Artists, and Entertainers (P visas), and Participants in International Cultural Exchange Programs (Q visas)”.
In addition, consular officers have been empowered to waive the in-person interview requirements for some student visa categories (F and M and academic J visas) until December 31 next year.
The State Department has also extended indefinitely the authorisation to waive in-person interviews for people renewing a visa in the same visa class within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration.