Effective December 18, 2006, DOS published a final rule regarding consular interviews for nonimmigrant visa applicants. The final rule conforms to the requirements of Section 222(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as added by section 5301 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and sets forth guidance to consular officers regarding the waiver of personal appearance related to nonimmigrant visa applications.

In summary, a personal appearance is required if the nonimmigrant visa applicant is: (1) between the ages of 14 and 79; (2) a third country national; and (3) has previously been refused a visa or found ineligible for a visa, where that ineligibility was not overcome.

The exceptions apply to: (1) a nonimmigrant visa applicant who is under the age of 14 or over the age of 79; (2) an applicant in A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, NATO-5, NATO-6 categories and the diplomatic or officials visas; (3) a nonimmigrant visa applicant seeking renewal of a nonimmigrant biometric visa in the same visa category at the consular post of the applicant’s usual residence within 12 months of the expiration of the applicant’s previously issued visa, and for whom the consular officer has no indication of visa ineligibility or of noncompliance with U.S. immigration laws and regulations; and (4) an alien for whom a waiver of personal appearance is warranted in the national interest or because of unusual circumstances.