The US Embassy in New Delhi announced on November 19, 2012, that its Interview Waiver Program (IWP) is being expanded.  Under the IWP, in some circumstances qualified individuals may apply for certain types of visas without being interviewed in person by a US consular officer.

In summary and with some further requirements, until now only Indian visa applicants in the following categories could seek interview waivers to renew visas that are currently valid or that have expired during the past 48 months:

  • Business/Tourism (B1 and/or B2)
  • Dependent Spouses and Children (J2, H4, L2)
  • Transit (C) and/or Crew Member (D) - including C1/D
  • Children applying before their 7th birthday traveling on any visa class
  • Applicants applying on or after their 80th birthday traveling on any visa class.  

The expanded program adds the following for consideration for streamlined processing:

  • Children applying before their 14th birthday traveling on any visa class
  • Students returning to attend the same school and same program
  • Temporary workers on H1-B visas
  • Temporary workers on Individual L1-A or Individual L1-B visas.

Visa renewals under the IWP may only be within the same classification as the current or prior visa. 

Those with visas annotated, “clearance received,” are not eligible for a waiver of the personal interview.  Further, consular officers retain discretion as to whether any application will be accepted for streamlined processing and may require an in-person interview of any visa applicant in any category.  In addition, the announcement states that “applicants who are renewing their visas may still need to make an appointment for biometrics (fingerprint and photograph) collection, and all applicants must submit all required fees and the DS-160 application form.”

The IWP began in March 2012.  Expansion of the IWP comes following the success of the program to-date and as part of continued efforts to streamline the visa process and meet increased visa demand in India.