The United States has removed the requirement of in-person interviews for work-visa applicants till December 31, 2022, to reduce the waiting time.

“The Covid pandemic resulted in profound reductions in the department’s visa processing capacity,” the US State Department said in a statement on Thursday. “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.”

The consular officers are temporarily waiving in-person interviews for applicants from following categories:

  • Persons in specialty occupations (H-1B visas)
  • trainees or special education visitors (H-3 visas)   
  • Employees transferred within a company (L visas)
  • Individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement (O visas)
  • Athletes, artists and entertainers (P visas)
  • Participants in international cultural exchange programs (Q visas)

“We recognise the many contributions of international visitors to our communities and campuses,” the US State Department said in its release. “Lastly, the authorisation to waive the in-person interview for applicants renewing a visa in the same visa class within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration has been extended indefinitely.”

However, it has said that consulates and embassies may still require an in-person interview on a case-to-case basis. The US State Department has requested applicants to check with embassies and consulate websites for detailed information about operating status and services.