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Non-immigrant visa interview: Waivers expanded

State Department expands waiver of some non-immigrant visa applicant interviews

In an effort to manage an increasing workload with less resources, the U.S. Department of State has added a large number of nonimmigrant visa applicants to the list of those for whom interviews may be waived. The program became effective on January 19, 2012 and will expire, unless extended, on January 19, 2014.  The program currently applies to F, M and J visa holders, and others to be announced.  In order to be eligible for the visa interview waiver, the applicant:

1. Must be renewing a visa which expired more than 12 months ago but less than 48 months of the expiration of the previous visa.

2. The visa must be in the same classification as the expired visa.

The Department of State intends to include other visa classifications in this program but has not yet announced which ones.

Prior to the implementation of this expanded visa interview waiver program, many consulates and embassies overseas permitted renewal of visas in most categories provided biometrics were on file, the visa application was being made in the same classification,  the visa had not expired more than 12 months ago and the application was being made in the home country.

An applicant may not have the interview waived if she/he:

1.      Was previously refused a visa

2.      Is listed in the Consular Lookout and Support System (“CLASS”)

3.      Otherwise requires a Security Advisory Opinion

4.      May have failed to comply with U.S. immigration laws in the past

5.      Is a national of a country designated as a state sponsor of terrorism

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