Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic started, the process and format of visa applications have been left perplexed with indefinite delayings. While for some countries, the visa process remained the same, for some it took time to get back in a normal manner. Work visas became difficult because the rate of unemployment is badly affected in all major countries due to coronavirus.
But in a sigh of relief, the United States will now allow its consular officers to waive in-person interviews for H-1B and other certain non-immigrant visa applicants through next year to help reduce visa wait times, the State Department said on Thursday. The overall surge in the COVID-19 cases resulted in profound reductions in the department’s visa processing capacity. And the decision has been made to take these temporary steps to efficiently reduce visa wait times while maintaining national security as a priority.
The consular officers will now be temporarily authorized to waive in-person interviews for nearly a dozen visa categories, including Persons in Specialty Occupations (H-1B visas), visas for students, temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers, student exchange visitors, as well as athletes, artists and entertainers.
The State Department also said it has extended indefinitely the authorization to waive the in-person interview for applicants renewing a visa in the same visa class within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration. Ergo, applicants for H-1B, L-1 and O-1 visas applying from abroad won’t be required to do an in-person interview at a US consulate, typically the final step before a visa is issued.
The release from the state department concluded by saying that they encourage applicants to check embassy and consulate websites for more detailed information about this development, as well as current operating status and services. Back in March 2020, the U.S. State Department had suspended all routine visa services in most countries worldwide due to the coronavirus outbreak.