If you recently submitted a visa petition to a U.S. Consulate abroad, you may be wondering whether the Consulate is conducting visa interviews electronically (e.g. via Skype or Zoom), or whether you have to attend the interview in person.
The short answer is that the U.S. Consulates are currently not offering or conducting online interview appointments. This is mostly because the Consular officers want to meet the visa applicant in person, as the face-to-face interaction and assessment is crucial for making their assessment as to whether you qualify for the particular visa.
What is a visa interview waiver?
Some Consulates were offering a visa interview waiver even pre-COVID. This means that if you met certain conditions such as:
- you were applying for a visa in the same visa category (e.g. you had an O-1 visa in the past and you wanted to renew your O-1 visa),
- your visa expired within 24 months, and
- you previously provided all 10 fingerprints, your visa interview appointment could be waived.
This means that you could just mail in your supporting documents & passport to the Consulate and the Consulate would then make a decision on your visa application. If the Consulate approved your visa, they would issue you the new visa and mail your passport back.
Are Consulates offering interview waivers during COVID?
Yes, and some Consulates even expanded their authority to waive the interview appointment if the person is renewing the visa in the same category and their visa expired in the past 48 months.
However, even if the Consulate waives the interview requirement, you should generally be physically present in the country where you are renewing your visa, as you will have to mail the Consulate certain documents, you will have to pick up your passport, and have it delivered to a local address.
The visa interview waiver is currently the only exception to when the Consulate does not require an in-person interview and we don’t think that the Consulates will switch to conducting the interviews online anytime soon.
Please see our blog post on whether you can travel to the U.S. during COVID when you click here.
Please see our blog post on whether the Consulates are currently issuing E-2 visas when you click here.
Please see our blog post on what is the National Interest Exception when you click here
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