In an effort to streamline the visa renewal process, the U.S. Consulates in India, some of the busiest U.S. visa application posts in the world, have been granting visa interview waivers to certain B-1/B-2, H-4, and L-2 visa applicants. To further streamline the process, these Consulates will now grant a waiver of the nonimmigrant visa interview for qualifying H, L, F, and J visa applicants.   This new option will likely alleviate some of the lengthy visa appointment times that applicants often endure.

Participants in the interview waiver program can either utilize the Dropbox application option or the general Interview Waiver Program option (which includes new biometrics), depending on when their previous visa was received.  Under both application methods, qualifying individuals must have a previous U.S. visa issued in India, and the renewal request must be for a visa in the same class. Additionally, the previous visa must have been issued after the applicant’s 14th birthday, and the applicant cannot have an annotated visa (i.e., one with “Clearance Received”).  Further, the applicant cannot have any prior visa refusals in any category and the most recent visa cannot have been lost or stolen.

The Interview Waiver Program expansion does not apply to Blanket L visa applicants. However, individual H or L applicants are eligible if their prior visa was in the same classification with the same petitioning employer, and that visa is valid or expired within the last 12 months.

To apply, the applicant must pay the appropriate fees and complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160).  The applicant then must register an account at https://cgifederal.secure.force.com/?language=English&country=India and schedule an interview.  If the applicant meets the Dropbox Requirements (previous visa received after November 1, 2008), he or she will receive a submission letter with instructions.  If the applicant meets the Interview Waiver Requirements (previous visa received after August 1, 2004), he or she will be prompted to schedule a biometrics appointment and given other instructions on the application process.

Submission of a nonimmigrant visa application through the interview waiver program does not guarantee the applicant will not have to appear at a Consulate for an interview.  However, if the application for an interview waiver is accepted, the applicant will be able pick up his or her passport with the new visa at a designated Document Collection Center