U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has announced that consular officers may waive the in-person interview requirement for applicants seeking nonimmigrant visas in the same category as a previously held visa that expired within the preceding 48 months. This will enable consular officers to process more nonimmigrant visa applications while limiting the number of individuals coming to the consular post, reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. This policy is in effect until December 31, 2021.
Routine nonimmigrant visa processing is still suspended at many consular posts due to local conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each U.S. Embassy or Consulate’s website will have the most up-to-date information regarding operating status and currently available services at that location.
Visa fees are valid for one year from the date of payment. However, some visa applicants have paid the processing fees but have been unable to schedule a visa appointment due to the pandemic. As a result, the State Department has extended the validity of visa application fees (also known as Machine Readable Visa or MRV fees) until September 30, 2022, so that applicants impacted by the suspension of routine visa services are able to schedule a visa appointment using the fees they already paid.
Other restrictions on international travel still exist. Individuals who are planning to travel outside of the U.S. are encouraged to consult with their T&S legal professional before departure.