In-Person Visa Interviews May Now Be Waived By Consular Officers For Visa Renewals Of Certain Foreign National Applicants

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In January 2012, the U.S. Department of State introduced a two-year visa interview waiver pilot program, which was the cornerstone of President Obama’s initiative to improve and speed up the visa process for certain categories of travelers to the U.S. This pilot program has now been made permanent, which will be welcome news for nonimmigrant visa holders currently in the U.S.  According to the new regulations, consular officers can waive the interview process for applicants seeking to renew any nonimmigrant visa within 12 months of expiration of the initial visa in the same classification. For example, an individual with an H-1B Professional Worker visa which expired within the last 12 months may not have to appear for an interview at a U.S. Consulate abroad in order to obtain a new H-1B visa for international travel. In the past, an in-person interview at a U.S. Consulate was required for this process. Interview waivers are also available for certain types of nonimmigrant visa renewals up to 48 months after expiration of the initial visa in the same classification.