Updated on 29.01.2024

Update on interview exemption for certain nonimmigrant visas

From 2024, new regulations in the US visa processes will allow interview exemptions and postal applications for certain nonimmigrant visa applications, making the process easier.

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On 21 December 2023, the U.S. Department of State published the conditions under which, from 1 January 2024, a nonimmigrant visa application can also be submitted without a personal interview at the US consulate, namely by means of the postal submission procedure.

During the pandemic, the Interview Waiver Program was extended to an ever-increasing group of people. This was done to relieve the consular departments and due to the tense appointment situation. Some of the regulations were due to expire on 31 December 2023; as a result, they have now been reviewed again.

After consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has determined that exemptions from the interview requirement for applicants in certain visa categories are in the national interest, as it has contributed to an enormous reduction in the workload of consular staff in recent years.

Requirements for submitting an application by post

In order to qualify for the postal application procedure from 1 January 2024 and thus be exempt from the interview at the consulate, applicants must also meet certain criteria:

  • Age exemption
    -Applicants younger than 14 years or older than 79 years
  • Visa extension
    -Applicants applying for a nonimmigrant visa of the same visa category, provided the previous visa is still valid or has not expired for more than 48 months
    -For F / M extension applications, the following also applies: The persons must continue to participate in the same programme at the same educational institution as in the initial application procedure
    -For J extension applications, the following also applies: The persons must have the same SEVIS number as in the initial application procedure.
  • First-time application
    Applicants who are applying for a specific nonimmigrant visa for the first time, provided that
    -You have already been granted any other nonimmigrant visa during an interview (except for B-1/B-2 visas) and
    -the previous visa is still valid or has been expired for less than 48 months


First-time H-2A or H-2B applicants qualify for the interview waiver procedure without further requirements (prior visa issuance).
Applicants in the L-Blanket visa category are still exempt from applying by post.

In addition, all groups of people must fulfil further requirements in order to qualify for the postal submission procedure:

  • The application must be submitted in the applicant's country of citizenship or they must have a residence permit for this country
  • Applicants are physically present in the country of application at the time of the visa application
  • No previous visa or ESTA refusal (unless this has been overridden or adjusted by the consulate)
  • No previous immigration or criminal offences
  • Further requirements may apply depending on consular jurisdiction or visa category
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Consulates decide independently

The US consulates worldwide can decide for themselves for which groups of people they offer the interview exemption and whether a personal interview is nevertheless required in individual cases. However, the aim is to gradually implement these regulations at consular missions worldwide from January 2024.

Please note that persons who use the postal procedure may also be invited for an interview by the US consulate at a later date. Furthermore, the mail-in procedure does not automatically guarantee the receipt of the US visa. Please refer to the website of the respective US embassy or consulate for information on the available appointments and the guidelines for your visa application.

Changes to the previous regulations

The interview waiver requirements will continue to apply until further notice, but will be reviewed annually and adjusted if necessary.

First-time applicants in the F, M and J visa categories, who had previously qualified if they had already entered the country under ESTA, could be disadvantaged by the amended regulations. This regulation has now been abolished, which will have a disadvantage for all participants in the Visa Waiver Program.

We recommend that applicants visit the websites of the US embassies and consulates to find out about the requirements and procedures for applying for a visa as well as the operating status and services of the respective embassy.

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Updated on 29.01.2024