The U.S. Embassy today issued the below fact sheet addressing visa and consular issues:
Applying for a student or petition-based worker nonimmigrant visa? You may not need an interview.
Recognizing the tremendous opportunities that U.S. work and study offer, and the important contributions of international visitors to U.S. communities, campuses, and the economy, the Department of State has streamlined visa processes for many applicants while continuing to protect national security. Here’s what you need to know:
Interview Waiver for Nonimmigrant Work and Student Visas
- Through December 31, 2022, the Department of State is authorized to waive in-person interview requirements for certain applicants and their qualifying derivatives in the following nonimmigrant visa classifications:
- STUDENTS (F, M, and academic J visas)
- WORKERS (H-1, H-2, H-3, and individual L visas)
- CULTURE AND EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY (O, P, and Q visas)
- The U.S. Mission in India will also continue to waive the in-person interview for qualified applicants renewing in the same visa classification within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration.
To be eligible for the expanded interview waiver program, applicants seeking these visa classifications must meet all the following requirements:
- Have previously been issued any category of U.S. visa;
- Have never been refused a U.S. visa unless the refusal was overcome or a waiver of ineligibility was obtained;
- Have no indication of ineligibility or potential visa ineligibility (unless a consular officer previously reviewed the information and determined it was insufficient to support ineligibility; and this information can be excluded as not rising to the level of an ineligibility without requiring an interview);
- Be a resident or national of the country in which they are applying; and
- Does not require additional processing, among other criteria.
The Embassy may still require an interview after reviewing the visa application.
- For more information on interview waivers and on the visa application process, please visit https://in.usembassy.gov/visas/ or https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html.
Academic Training Extension for J-1 Students in STEM
- To further support the increasing flow of talent between India and the United States in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the United States has extended the period of academic training to up to 36 months for eligible exchange visitors pursuing studies in the STEM fields.
- Eligible exchange visitors must be undergraduate and pre-doctoral degree-seeking J-1 college and university students who are pursuing or recently completed STEM-related studies. The initiative will run for the next two academic years (2021-2022 and 2022-2023) for exchange students who meet the academic training requirements.
- Exchange visitors interested in this extension should contact their Department-designated sponsor under the Exchange Visitor Program, who can apply for the extension on their behalf.
Impact in India
These streamlined visa procedures are already making a difference. So far in 2022, the U.S. Mission to India processed more than 75,000 nonimmigrant visas, including more than 40,000 H and L visas. Thousands of applicants have been issued visas without an interview under these expanded authorities.
- Mission India has almost doubled nonimmigrant visa processing compared to last year, despite still facing COVID-19-related restrictions. We will continue to add additional appointments as our resources allow.
- Throughout the pandemic, Mission India has prioritized student visas and petition-based worker visas. Mission India issued more than 55,000 visas to student and exchange visitor applicants in summer 2021, an all-time high.