H1B Visa News: Interviews at US consular offices waived for H-1Bs and other work visas | World News – Times of India


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MUMBAI: For one entire year, the US Department of State (DOS) is waiving in-person interview requirements at local consulates for several non-immigrant work visa categories and the dependents of such visa holders (spouse and dependent children). This waiver will continue through December 31, 2022.
An official statement reads: The DOS recognizes the positive impact of temporary work visa holders on the US economy and is committed to facilitating non-immigrant travel and reducing visa wait times.”
We are pleased to announce that consular officers are now temporarily authorized, through December 31, 2022, to waive in-person interviews for certain individual petition-based non-immigrant work visas and their qualifying derivatives in the following categories: Persons in Specialty Occupations (H-1B visas), Trainee or Special Education Visitors (H-3 visas), Intracompany Transferees (L visas), Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement (O visas), Athletes, Artists, and Entertainers (P visas), and Participants in International Cultural Exchange Programs (Q visas), adds the statement.

Consular officers have also been empowered to waive the interview process, up to December next year for international students (F and M visas) and also those on student exchange visas (J visas).
Till this announcement was made on Thursday, immigrant attorneys were advising their clients (especially those intending to travel to India) that if they were in the US on work visas such as H-1B, L-1 etc and needed to get their visas stamped before they returned – it was best not to travel. Not only were the consulate offices in India backlogged on processing but the priority was given to certain categories such as students and medical professionals. Further, instances of visa appointment cancellations added to the woes of those wanting to return back to the US.
While the travel ban was lifted in November, several Indian families were staying put in the US, for fear that they would be stuck in India for months and wouldn’t be able to return to their jobs in time.
“Santa has come early,” said one Chicago-based H-4 visa holder, who is now contemplating traveling to Chandigarh to meet her family. She has not visited India since the pandemic struck and has missed attending her Uncle’s funeral and also the wedding of a close relative.
The statement issued by DOS cautions that “Embassies and consulates may still require an in-person interview on a case-by-case basis and dependent upon local conditions.”
Lastly, 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 has been extended indefinitely.

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