Tag Archives: embassy

Interview Waiver Discretion Expanded by DOS: Additional Drop Box Appointments Available Soon

Interview Waiver Discretion Expanded by DOS: Additional Drop Box Appointments Available Soon

On December 23, 2021, the Department of State announced that consular officers would be able to waive the in-person interview requirements for certain nonimmigrant visa applicants with approved petitions with USCIS. This potential waiver applies to individuals applying for H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q visas who meet certain conditions. The following conditions apply:

  • The individual must be applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence.
  • They must have been previously issued any type of visa.
  • The individual must have never been refused a visa, unless the refusal was overcome or waived.
  • They must have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility (criminal charges, citations, overstays, etc.)

First-time individual petition-based H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q applicants who are citizens or nationals of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) provided they have “no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility and have previously traveled to the United States using an authorization obtained via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)” may also be eligible for an interview waiver.

The Secretary of State also extended previous interview waiver policies for certain students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or specialists (F, M, and academic J visa applicants). One change to the previous policy is that applicants eligible for the waiver authority because they are citizens or nationals of a VWP participating country must have previously traveled to the United States using an authorization obtained via ESTA to qualify.  Applicants must apply for a visa in their country of nationality or residence. 

The interview waiver of certain H-2 (A and B) applicants has also been extended through the end of 2022. Applicants renewing any visa within 48 months are eligible for an interview waiver. However, the Department of State notes that it is up to the consular officers’ discretion and applicants could still be required to attend an in-person interview.

Visa Appointments Are Still Limited: India Update

The DOS notes that you should check with your local consular posts for details on interview waiver appointments. There are still backlogs at most posts given the COVID-19 backlogs, limited operating conditions, and staffing challenges.

The visa services division in India has announced additional appointments are to be released:

In the coming days, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India will release more than 20,000 additional interview waiver (dropbox) appointments for Spring 2022 to allow qualified applicants to make use of the new interview waiver authority. Due to reduced staffing and numerous pandemic-related disruptions to our operations since March 2020, appointment demand is high across all visa categories and wait times may be lengthy for most routine nonimmigrant visa appointments at the U.S. Embassy New Delhi and the consulates in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai.

As a reminder, all travelers must abide by vaccination and testing requirements set forth by the CDC, DHS, DOS, and the airlines.

Additional Resources

________________________________________________________________________________

Connecting with Challa Law Group

Join us on Wednesdays for a live webinar at 12 PM ET on critical immigration updates

Don’t miss out on the immigration news! You can sign up for our mailing list or follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, or LinkedIn. You can also join our Telegram community.

Contact us at info@challalaw.com or 804-360-8482 to get your case started today.

Interview Waiver Checklist: Are you eligible for a Drop Box appointment?

Are you eligible for a Drop Box appointment?

If you can answer “yes” to the below questions, you may qualify for an Interview Waiver. If eligible for the waiver, you must still fill out your DS-160 online and then schedule a Drop Box appointment at a Visa Application Center to drop off the required documentation. (The process varies by consular post, so please follow the directions provided to you during the scheduling process.)

Do I qualify for the interview waiver program (IWP) or a “drop box” appointment?

Individuals may be able to renew their visas without an interview if they are reapplying for the same visa class that they previously held. Typically, interviews can be waived for individuals who are renewing unexpired visas or visas that expired less than one year ago. A recent Department of State announcement expanded that time frame to visas that have expired within a 48-month period, effective until December 31, 2021.

Eligibility Criteria for Applicants (Same Visa Class)
(Except children under 14 years of age and applicants 80 years of age or older)

☐ I was previously issued a visa in the same visa classification
☐ My prior visa (in the same class) is still valid or expired within the last 48 months (temporary extension – typically 12 months)
☐ My most recent visa was issued in the same country
☐ I received my visa after January 1, 2008 and was 14 years old or older when I applied for that visa
☐ My prior visa is not annotated “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”
☐ My prior visa (in the same class) was issued on or after my 14th birthday
☐ My prior visa (in the same class) was not lost/stolen or cancelled
☐ I have no refusals for a visa in any class after my most recent visa issuance
☐ If yes, then the refusals need to be identified on the DS-160
☐ I have not been arrested or convicted of any crime
☐ I have not stayed in the U.S. longer than 6 months on a B-1/B-2 visa
☐ If applying for an F visa, I am continuing as a student at the same school for which my previous visa was issued
☐ If I am applying for a J visa, my current DS-2019 is issued by the same institution as the institution listed on my previous visa

Note: Blanket L1 visa applicants do not qualify for the Interview Waiver, but Blanket L2 spouses are eligible

GEOGRAPHICAL TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

Please note that you must also qualify for a National Interest Exception if traveling from a country affected by geographical travel restrictions.

Eligibility criteria for children under 14 years of age:

  • My parents qualify to renew through the interview waiver program
  • I am applying before my 14th birthday

Note: Children under 14 must submit copies of both parents’ passports’ biographic information, birth certificate, completed DS-160 confirmation, and valid U.S. visa page.

Eligibility criteria for applicants over 80 years of age:

  • I am applying on or after 80th birthday
  • My most recent visa application was not refused

Booking an Appointment

You must first create a profile, then proceed with completing your application. Pay the visa application fee and print one copy of the submission confirmation page.

LOG IN

Schedule a drop box appointment online for the earliest available date. Drop off your passport and the documents listed on the submission confirmation at one of the CGI Service Centers.

INDIA SERVICE CENTERS

Additional Resources


Connecting with Challa Law Group

Join us on Wednesdays for a live webinar at 12 PM ET on critical immigration updates

Don’t miss out on the immigration news! You can sign up for our mailing list or follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, or LinkedIn. You can also join our Telegram community.

Contact us at info@challalaw.com or 804-360-8482 to get your case started today.