In-Person Interview Waiver for Immigration Visa
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone around the world due to travel restrictions, border closures, and limited capacity/hours for consular officers. While those who are already in the US with their families can rest assured, thousands of families have been unable to reconnect with their loved ones due to the inaccessibility of obtaining a visa. On January 31, 2020, the covid-19 pandemic was declared a public emergency that brought havoc and chaos to the immigration system. In March of 2020, the Department of State temporarily suspended routine visa services at all US embassies and consulates across the globe. In July of 2020, posts were able to resume services on a case-by-case basis, depending on local conditions and emergency response capabilities. Nevertheless, the backlog of visa services has caused a major delay for thousands of people. Excruciating waiting times for application processing and interview appointments has made this process seem inaccessible and hopeless for everyone in the near future.
While there still remains a high number of applicants awaiting the possibility of a visa, the Department of State has finally taken action in an attempt to alleviate the problem of long wait times. Starting on December 13, 2021, the Department of State has put into effect the Temporary Final Rule (TFR), that temporarily authorizes consular officers to waive the requirement that an immigrant visa applicant must appear in person for an interview if they have previously been approved for an immigrant visa in the same classification on or after August 4, 2019. Individuals who have been issued an immigrant visa may need to seek a subsequent visa if, for example, they have previously been issued an immigrant visa but were unable to seek admission to the US during the period of validity. In the past, all immigrant visa applicants were required to appear in person before a consular officer to be interviewed under oath. This process was deemed beneficial both for the consular officer, who can assess the credibility of the visa applicant, and the applicant is given the opportunity to correct any information on their application.
The Department of State has concluded that requiring the recipient of a previously approved immigrant visa to appear again in person would “significantly strain consular resources”. According to data acquired by the Department, nearly 49,000 individuals were issued immigrant visas between August 4, 2019, and September 30, 2021, and have not yet sought admission to the US. The TFR will be effective until December 13, 2023.
To qualify for the discretionary in-person waiver, the applicant must:
- Have been issued a US immigrant visa on or after August 4, 2019
- Seek an immigrant visa in the same classification and pursuant in the same approved petition as the previously issued immigrant visa
- Qualify for an immigrant visa in the same classification
- Have no changed circumstance that could affect the applicant’s eligibility for the visa
The goal of the TFR is to further the Department of State’s commitment to health and safety throughout the global pandemic. These measures should help efforts to lower exposure to covid-19, as well as save time and travel expenses for applicants who wish to apply for another immigrant visa after having been unable to use their original visa.
We understand how much impact the pandemic has had on everyone, and while every individual has their own unique circumstances, we are here to help you. If you think this new rule may be affect you or your loved one, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our goal is to help reunite you and your family, and we are constantly working to make your future dreams become more of a reality.