US had suspended in March 2020 all routine visa services worldwide due to the coronavirus outbreak. While the services have been reinstated with a limited capacity and on a priority basis, months-long wait times for certain visa appointments persist due to a massive backlog.
In response to rising fears regarding COVID-19 cases, The Department of Homeland and Safety US has stated that for the entire year of 2022, it will waive the Final Rule/in-person interview requirement for a variety of visa applicants, including H-1B workers and students.
“The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in profound reductions in the department’s visa processing capacity,” it said. “As global travel rebounds, we are taking these temporary steps to further our commitment to safely and efficiently reduce visa wait times while maintaining national security as our priority” issued statement on Thursday
The consular officers will now be temporarily authorized to waive Final Rule/in-person interviews for nearly a dozen visa categories, including Persons in Specialty Occupations (H-1B visas), visas for students, temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers, student exchange visitors, as well as athletes, artists and entertainers.
The full list of visa categories in which the appointment now could be waived can be found here.
The State Department also said it has extended indefinitely the authorization to waive the Final Rule/in-person interview for applicants renewing a visa in the same visa class within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration.