The US State Department (DOS) has authorized a discretionary waiver of the in-person interview requirement for certain nonimmigrant visa applicants through December 31, 2022.  Those eligible for a possible waiver of the in-person interview are H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P and Q visa applicants who:

  • Have an individual petition approval from USCIS
  • Apply for a visa in their country of nationality or residence
  • Were previously issued any type of visa (and were never refused a visa unless the refusal was overcome or waived), and
  • Have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility


  • Are first-time individual petition-based H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P or Q applicants
  • Are citizens or nationals of a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) country
  • Have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility
  • Have previously travelled to the US under ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization).

DOS has also extended through December 31, 2022 its policy for discretionary waivers of in-person visa interviews for certain students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, and specialists (F, M and academic J visa applicants).  Note that this waiver extension now requires a person who is eligible for the interview waiver as a citizen or national of a VWP country to have previously travelled to the US under ESTA.

In addition, DOS extended the discretionary in-person interview waiver for H-2 applicants and those renewing any visa within 48 months of expiration.

Visa applicants should be sure to check the US embassy or consulate website where they wish to schedule for information on applying for a visa without an interview.  It’s important to keep in mind that the consular officers have discretion to grant the interview waiver—or not.

The DOS announcement was made on December 23, 2021.

Please contact me directly with questions at or 412-394-5540.

Catherine Wadhwani is a Partner and Co-Chair of the Immigration Practice Group at Fox Rothschild LLP.  For more than 25 years, her practice has focused on business immigration law and compliance, primarily in the health care, general corporate and academic sectors.  Ms. Wadhwani’s practice covers the United States and Consulates worldwide.  She is based in our Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania office.  Please contact Ms. Wadhwani at  or at 412-394-5540.