Until recently, if you wished to obtain a non-immigrant visa to enter the United States, an in-person interview was required for both first-time applicants and those who were renewing their visa. However, in January 2012, the U.S. consulates and embassies implemented a pilot program in order to improve and expedite the visa process for specific categories of travelers.

Under the new program, individuals who complied with certain requirements were able to renew their visas without being interviewed. As of January 2014, the pilot program has become permanent.

What Does the New Visa Screening Process Entail?

Prior to the introduction of this program, there was a visa screening process in place that was developed after 9/11 and that required many biographic and biometric checks. Under the new measure, in specific circumstances, certain foreign visitors who were previously interviewed and screened as part of their initial application may have the opportunity to renew their visas without being interviewed a second time.

As a result of the new initiative, such applicants will realize a savings in both time and money, and will likely revisit the U.S. In addition, a greater number of first-time applicants will be able to be interviewed.

Who Is Eligible to Waive the Interview?

The program will benefit:

  • Applicants whose visas expired less than one year ago and who seek to renew their visa in the same classification as their previous nonimmigrant biometric visa, or same visa class and same category.
  • Applicants who are applying in the consular district of their usual residence.
  • Applicants who have complied with all biometric visa prerequisites.

In certain situations, applicants may be granted renewal of their visa up to 48 months after expiration of their visa if the applicants are in a visa class that is not E, H, L, P, or R. The applicants must comply with the afore-mentioned requirements.

Seeking Legal Help

If you are considering renewing your visa, and would like to determine whether you qualify for a waiver of an in-person interview, you should consult an immigration attorney.