The State Department has expanded an existing policy to waive in-person interviews for visa applicants due to COVID-19. The policy now extends to F, M and academic J applicants.


Through Dec. 31, 2021, consular officers may waive visa interviews for first-time applicants in the F, M and academic J visa categories. Those individuals include students, professors, specialists, research scholars and short-term scholars.

In order to have an in-person interview waived, individuals must meet certain eligibility criteria. Ap. Applicants who have previously been issued a U.S. visa or who are citizens of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program and they must meet all other eligibility requirements for the visa that they are applying for. Individuals who have previously had a visa denied do not qualify for the in-person interview waiver unless the visa refusal was ultimately overcome or waived. Employers and applicants should know that consular officers have the discretion to approve or deny in-person interview waivers.

Looking Ahead  

Although this update is a broader initiative of the State Department, employers and applicants are encouraged to contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for further information on current services available and for additional guidance on applying for a visa without an accompanying in-person interview.

Originally Published 16 September 2021

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