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On December 21, 2023, the Department of State (DOS) revealed a joint decision with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), announcing that, effective January 1, 2024, specific categories of interview waivers are now considered in the national interest.

The expanded interview waiver authorities now cover first-time H-2 visa applicants, encompassing both temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers. Moreover, the coverage extends to other non-immigrant visa applicants applying for any non-immigrant visa classification, provided they meet specific criteria i.e. the applicants must meet specific legal requirements, including applying in their country of nationality or residence. Additionally, applicants should have no history of visa refusal, except in cases where such refusal has been overcome or waived, and should not exhibit any apparent or potential ineligibility. The expanded interview waiver applies to individuals previously issued a non-immigrant visa in any classification, excluding cases where the only prior visa was a B visa. Eligibility is further restricted to those applying within 48 months of their most recent non-immigrant visa’s expiration date. Notably, this represents a significant expansion to the previous year’s authority, now including all non-immigrant categories but excluding those whose only prior visa was a B visa.

In line with the announcement, the DOS underscores that consular officers retain the authority and discretion to require in-person interviews on a case-by-case basis or considering local conditions. This highlights a commitment to a nuanced and adaptable approach in implementing interview requirements.

This decision allows consular officers to retain the authority and discretion to waive in-person interviews for certain non-immigrant visa cases, with adjustments made by the DOS.

As per the DOS, this authority will be subject to an annual review and remains in effect until further notice, deviating from the previous practice of setting deadlines for December 31st of the following year.

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us for a consultation. Our dedicated team is here to support you through the petition process and address any concerns you may have.