Do you know that many U.S. consulates provide an option for the NIV interview to be waived if certain criteria are met? This option is important to consider when, increasingly, NIV applicants are subject to long wait times either for scheduling an NIV interview or waiting for visa issuance post interview. According to the immigration laws, NIV interviews are required unless the applicant is younger than 14 or older than 79. However, there are specific criteria by which one could qualify for an interview waiver.
The following are the criteria applied in most interview waiver cases: (1) the applicant must be applying for the same visa classification of their most recent visa; (2) the visa category does not fall under A, C, G, or NATO; (3) the most recent visa did not expire more than 12 months ago; (4) the applicant is applying in their consular district of their normal residence/nationality; (5) the applicant is not a security risk; (6) the most recent visa was issued in the same country where interview waiver is requested; (7) the passport with the visa was not stolen or canceled; (8) the visa was issued after 2008; (8) the visa was issued after the person’s 14th birthday; (9) the visa was not annotated “clearance reviewed” or annotated “clearance received” or “department authorization”; and (10) the nonimmigrant applicant was not refused a visa after the most recent visa issuance.
F-1 visa applicants can only qualify if they are continuing as a student at the same school for which their previous visa was issued. Similarly, a J-1 visa applicant may have the interview waived if their DS-2019 was issued by the same institution as their previous visa. In terms of timing of filing the NIV under the waiver process, it is important to note that the adjudication of the interview waiver application will be considered as long as the NIV application is filed under the waiver procedures within 12 months of the expiration date of the most recent visa, even if the actual adjudication takes place outside that 12-month window.
U.S. consulates may have their own specific requirements. Therefore, it is best to check the specific requirements on the website of the U.S. consulate of their residence. Keep in mind, the applicant could still be required to report for an interview at the discretion of the consular officer.
In most cases, the visa will be issued within one to two weeks, and the visa and passport will be delivered to the applicant at the pick-up location selected.