The U.S. Department of State made an important announcement that has authorised consular offices to expand the categories of F, M and academic J applicants whose applications can be adjudicated without an interview until the end of 2021.
Consular offices can now waive the visa interview requirement for F, M and academic J visa applicants (students, research scholars, professors, short-term scholars or short-term specialists) who were earlier granted any type of US visa and who have never been refused a visa. These will also apply to first-time F, M and academic J visa applicants who are nationals of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). However, they should have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility. The same applies only to non-US citizens who are citizens of eligible countries.
The statement explained that applicants not from the 39 VWP countries whose visa was previously issued when they were less than 14 years of age may have to submit their biometrics but can still be eligible for an in-person interview waiver.
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Secretary of state Antony Blinken, in consultation with the department of homeland security , authorised consular offices to have the option of waiving interview for the rest of 2021.
Stakeholders have earlier called for changes to provide alternatives to in-person visa interviews as students face visa delays.
Applicants have been asked to refer to their relevant US embassy or consulate website to get further information about the same, get confirmation and find guidelines for getting a visa interview waiver.
The state department further said that international students have always been one of the US' highest priorities. It recognises the contributions made by them to US university campuses, communities, cultural understanding, furthering research and knowledge and supporting US diplomacy.
The country had earlier made F, M and academic J visa applicants eligible for National Interest Exceptions letting them arrive in the US even after the country suspended entry from 33 countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: The PIE News