Extension of the interview waiver

The State Department confirmed at the end of the year that it would extend until December 31, 2023, the interview exemption measures already in place for certain nonimmigrant visa application processes. Typically, US visa issuance is only possible through an in-person interview at the US consulate for all applicants ages 14-79.


Positive impact on US economy

The US Department of State recognizes the positive impact that foreign travelers on student and work visas, in particular, have on the US economy. Therefore, to make travel easier for nonimmigrants, the Department is committed to continuing to reduce wait times for visa appointments, or to enable visa application processes without in-person interviews

As early as the end of 2021, the State Department announced that all US consulates worldwide would be empowered to waive in-person interviews with applicants for certain visa categories by the end of 2022. This decision was made at a time when it was impossible for applicants to get an appointment at a US consulate without waiting several months.

Now, despite an improvement in the scheduling situation at US consulates, the decision has been made to extend the appointment waiver for nonimmigrant visas. Thus, US consulates worldwide have the option of continuing to waive in-person interviews on a case-by-case basis for certain initial or renewal visa applications. These categories of individuals may apply for a US visa through the mail-in process.

Visa categories affected by the extension of appointment waiver

Applicants in the following visa categories qualify for the simplified application process (without an in-person interview) under certain conditions:

  • Temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers (H-2 visas).
  • students(F and M visas)
  • academic exchange visitors (academic J visas)
  • persons in special occupations(H-1B visas)
  • trainees or visitors of special schools (H-3 visas)
  • intra-company transfers (L visas)
  • persons of exceptional ability or achievement (O visas)
  • athletes, artists and entertainers (P visas)
  • participants in international cultural exchange programs (Q visas)

Please note that depending on the US consulate around the world, different conditions may apply for individuals in the above categories to be eligible to apply by mail (i.e., without an in-person interview).

Also, the authorization to waive the in-person interview for applicants renewing a visa of the same classification within 48 months of the expiration of the previous visa has been extended until further notice. Again, certain eligibility requirements apply.
Applicants younger than 14 years of age or older than 80 years of age are generally exempt from the interview requirement.

The current regulations for the German US consulates can be found here.

Shortened waiting times at US consulates

The interview waiver has reduced the wait time for visa appointments at many US embassies and consulates by freeing up appointments for other applicants.

Of the seven million nonimmigrant visas issued by the State Department in fiscal year 2022, half could be adjudicated without an in-person interview. Following closures during the corona-related pandemic, USCIS successfully reduced visa wait times worldwide.

Shortened processes within US agencies, such as the visa interview waiver, digital modernizations in the process, as well as staffing increases, have helped resolve the crisis around long wait times at US consulates and processing of visa applications at most locations worldwide.

Despite the regulations, US embassies and US consulates still have the option, on a case-by-case basis and depending on local circumstances, to request a face-to-face interview with the applicant, for example, to gain a better understanding of the particular visa request. I.e. not all US embassies/US consulates worldwide participate in the (exception) regulations described above. We therefore recommend applicants to check the websites of the US consulates for information on the development as well as the current operational status and the respective services.



Updated on 9.1.2023

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