US Extends Visa Interview Waiver Authority Through 2024

US Extends Visa Interview Waiver Authority Through 2024

The United States State Department will continue to exempt certain visa applicants from in-person interviews next year, extending the waiver authority that was set to expire on December 31, 2023.

This policy, known as the visa interview waiver authority, permits consular officers to bypass in-person interviews for low-risk visa applications. Acting in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department estimates this extension will double the pool of eligible applicants compared to the previous temporary measures.

Under the new policy, applicants renewing a non-immigrant visa in the same category within 48 months of expiration will remain eligible for an interview waiver. Crucially, this extension has no specified end date, subject to regular review.

US officials anticipate these changes will broaden eligibility, easing congestion in the visa application process and facilitating inbound travel from multiple countries.

Failure to extend this authority would have resulted in significantly longer wait times for 40% of visa applicants, causing billions in lost spending and impacting the US economy.

US Travel Industry Supports Extension

Experts in the US travel industry emphasise the importance of interview waivers for low-risk travellers, crucial in supporting the American economy and addressing the pandemic-induced visa backlog hindering international travel growth to the US.

Despite nearly four years passing since the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the US has witnessed a decline of 13 million visitors compared to 2019. Lengthy visa interview wait times, averaging over 400 days in key markets, significantly contribute to this decline.

Granting the authority to waive visa interviews is a substantial step toward bolstering global competitiveness and facilitating a more efficient and secure travel experience.

The visa interview waiver authority notably helped alleviate the backlog in non-immigrant visa applications during 2022 and 2023, stemming from pent-up demand and a shortage of embassy staff.

Do you need a visa to the United States? Talk to us in the comment section below. Or if you need more advice on the above, contact us for further travel & immigration advice.

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If you need help with a US visa, a UK Visa, or a visa to Europe, including help with appointment booking obligations, IaM can help. For more information and advice on US immigration, UK immigration law and US visa applications or if you need any help or assistance please, reach out to your Visa Coordinator at IaM.

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