US drops in-person interviews for H-1B, L-1 visas for now as Covid surges

The State Department is temporarily dropping an in-person interview requirement for some work-visa categories in 2022 to ease visa issuances, as the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into the third year, the department announced.
Image Courtesy: AP
Image Courtesy: AP

Washington

Amid growing concerns of Covid-19 surge, the US on Thursday (local time) is temporarily dropping an in-person interview requirement for some work-visa categories - H-1B, L-1 and O-1.
The State Department is temporarily dropping an in-person interview requirement for some work-visa categories in 2022 to ease visa issuances, as the Covid-19 pandemic stretches into the third year, the department announced.
Applicants for H-1B, L-1 and O-1 visas applying from abroad won't be required to do an in-person interview at a US consulate, typically the final step before a visa is issued. Those categories represent the most common visa types companies use to attract high-skilled talent from abroad.
The consular officers are now temporarily authorised, through December 31, 2022, to waive in-person interviews for certain individual petition-based non-immigrant work visas and their qualifying derivatives in the following categories: Persons in Specialty Occupations (H-1B visas), Trainee or Special Education Visitors (H-3 visas), Intracompany Transferees (L visas), Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement (O visas), Athletes, Artists, and Entertainers (P visas), and Participants in International Cultural Exchange Programs (Q visas), added US State Department release.
Additionally, the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken has extended consular officers' current ability to waive the in-person interview, through December 31, 2022, for the following other categories of non-immigrant visas: Temporary Agricultural and Non-agricultural Workers (H-2 visas), Students (F and M visas), and Student Exchange Visitors (Academic J visas).
We recognise the many contributions of international visitors to our communities and campuses. Lastly, the authorisation to waive the in-person interview for applicants renewing a visa in the same visa class within 48 months of the prior visa's expiration has been extended indefinitely, added the release.
The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in profound reductions in the Department's visa processing capacity. As global travel rebounds, the US is taking these temporary steps to further commitment to safely and efficiently reduce visa wait times while maintaining national security. The determination was made with the concurrence of Department of Homeland Security partners.

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