Published: Mar 26, 2022, Updated: Apr 11, 2022
The U.S. Department of State recently announced that all American consulates have now been authorized to forgo the in-person interviews that were normally required, provided the employment visa applicant meets a number of specific criteria.
The amended rule applies to applications for temporary employment visas in the following categories: Q, P, O, L, H-4, H-3, and H-1. The revised regulations aim to take some of the pressure off consulates by reducing the number of personal appointments and will provisionally apply until December 31, 2022.
As a general rule, all visa applicants between the ages of 14 and 79 must appear at the American consulate in person. The revised rules make provision for specific types of work visas to be granted without such a personal interview. Applicants can submit these applications by mail. For the most current information on travel requirements, please visit: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html.
- The individual must already have applied successfully for a U.S. visa (any category, excluding ESTA) at least once.
- He or she has to be applying in person in their home country and must be personally present when the application is submitted.
- The applicant must never have been rejected when applying for a U.S. visa in the past.
- There are no obvious reasons why the application might be unsuccessful, such as having a criminal record.
- The applicant must previously have visited the United States under the Visa Waiver Program at least once or must have successfully applied for a U.S. visa at an overseas consulate. Being approved for an ESTA does not count.
- The applicant has to apply in his country of citizenship.
- He or she must be in that country at the time when they apply for the visa.
- The applicant has never been denied a visa or ESTA before.
- There must be no self-evident reason why the visa might be denied, for example, the applicant has a criminal record.
The current rule regarding the option to send in mail applications (i.e. without having to attend a personal interview) for certain categories of students and academics has also been extended until December 31, 2022. This extension applies to students in categories M and F, as well as specific J-1 visas issued to secondary and university students, Specialists, Short-term Research Scholars, and Professors.
The earlier entry requirements for these types of applicants will continue to apply. What has changed is that M, F, and J academics applicants from a Visa Waiver Program country must have entered the United States with an ESTA at least once in order to qualify for the personal appointment waiver. Until the end of 2021, the only requirement was a current ESTA approval.
The current waiver for in-person interviews for certain types of visa applicants (categories H-2B and H-2A) was also extended until December 31, 2022.