The US Department of State (DoS) has announced the extension of its expanded US visa interview waiver eligibility policy for people applying for a non-immigrant visa in the same classification. The extension runs until December 31, 2021.
It’s understood that under the expanded policy, non-immigrant visa applicants whose visas expire within four years of applying for a new visa, will be eligible for an interview waiver. Previously, an interview waiver was only available to those whose non-immigrant US visa expired within two years.
The DoS stated that it is expanding the interview waver eligibility in order to maximize the number of US visa applications processed while limiting in-person contact between consular officials and applicants to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Consulates and embassies
While the expanded interview waiver eligibility criteria will be applied at US consulates and embassies around the world, applicants are advised that many offices remain closed or limited processing is taking place for certain US visa types.
Therefore, travelers are being urged to check the website of their nearest consulate or embassy for up to date information on the services that are operating and the eligibility information and instructions for applying for a US visa without an interview.
A statement issued by the DoS said: “The Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, has temporarily expanded the ability of consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for individuals applying for a non-immigrant visa in the same classification.”
“This policy is in effect until December 31, 2021. This change will allow consular officers to continue processing certain non-immigrant visa applications while limiting the number of applicants who must appear at a consular section, thereby reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission to other applicants and consular staff,” the statement added.
Biden immigration reforms hit problems
News of the extended US visa interview waiver eligibility comes amid reports that Joe Biden’s sweeping immigration reforms face a bleak outcome. It’s understood that a lack of required support in the House and the Senate has left it looking unlikely that any of the reforms will be passed.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, the chamber’s second-ranking Democrat, said: “I don’t believe there’s enough support in this Congress to pass a full-blown US immigration bill with a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants. I don’t see a means for reaching that.”
When asked about the citizenship element of Biden’s immigration bill, Durbin said: “I want it, but I think we are much more likely to deal with discrete elements.”
Durbin added: “I think House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has discovered that she doesn't have support for the comprehensive bill in the House. This indicates where it is in the Senate as well.”
According to Durbin, the Senate Judiciary Committee is unlikely to act on any legislation until April at the earliest.
South Carolina Republican, Senator Lindsey Graham, said: “We’re not going to do a comprehensive immigration bill. I just don’t see the politics of it. It’s too out of control.”
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