Study Abroad: US Expands Visa Waiver Program to Reduce Wait Times for Visa Appointments

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Study Abroad: US Expands Visa Waiver Program to Reduce Wait Times for Visa Appointments

The United States has expanded its visa waiver programme in a move to reduce wait times for visa appointments. Travellers with “clearance received” or “department authorization” on their previous visas can now use the interview waiver process to apply for a new visa.


The US Embassy in India shared the development on Twitter, stating “More good news for U.S. visa renewals!”. Applicants renewing any visa in the same category within 48 months of expiration are eligible for an interview waiver.

Record-Breaking Year For Canada Study Visa Applications
Record-Breaking Year For Canada Study Visa Applications

US Extended Waiver Program

The Department of State has authorized consular officers to waive the in-person interview for travellers applying for certain visa categories. These categories include F, H-1, H-3, H-4, non-blanket L, M, O, P, Q, and academic J visas. The applicants who had previously been issued any type of visa will get this waiver. And that too only if they are applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence.

However, this authorization does not apply to applicants who have previously been refused a visa. Unless the refusal was subsequently waived or overcome. Additionally, if a consular officer requires any further information they may request an in-person interview.

Moreover, applicants using the interview waiver process usually receive their visa within 3 weeks of applying for same. Also, visa applicants need to wait until they receive the notification of passport pick-up.

Last year, the US extended the waiver program until December 31, 2023, for certain visa categories. These included:

  • H-2 (temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers).
  • Certain professors, students, research scholars, short-term scholars, or specialists (F, M, and academic J visa applicants). 
  • H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q visa applicants who meet certain conditions. 

Under these authorities, consular officers have the discretion to waive the visa interview requirement for certain first-time and renewing visa applicants who meet the specified criteria. We covered this news which you can read by clicking here.

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