The Department of State has announced that it has decided to waive the in-person interview requirement for the following nonimmigrant visas: H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, Q, F, M, and academic J. Consular officers will have discretion to waive the interview if the applicant has been issued any type of visa in the past and have never been refused a visa unless the refusal has been overcome or waived. Even those who have never been issued a visa before can have their interview waived if they are a citizen of a country that participates in ESTA (visa waiver) and they have previously traveled to the US on ESTA.
This is a big benefit to many nonimmigrants applying for visas in this pandemic world of almost non-existent appointment slots at consulates above, however, it is proving difficult for Indian applicants. Those applying at US consulates in India may be familiar with the drop box system there. However, the drop box system in India requires an appointment to drop off documents. These appointments have become very hard to come by, and with the new policy even clients who would like to get an interview since it’s actually faster, are being told they need to go through the drop box route. We are warning all our clients to plan accordingly since traveling without having an appointment scheduled can result in significant delays. The US mission in India has announced that they are planning on adding 20,000 appointments to the drop box schedule, but staffing shortages and delays we don’t know how much this will alleviate the problem.
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