The U.S. Department of State will temporarily waive the interview requirement for roughly 49,000 immigrant visa applicants, according to a temporary final rule published Friday.
The new rule applies to applicants who were already approved for an immigrant visa in the same classification and on the same basis on or after August 4, 2019. The rule will be in effect from Dec. 13, 2021 to Dec. 13, 2023.
According to the rule, consular officers can decide whether or not to waive the in-person requirement, and may instead call or email the applicant.
The rule “is designed to help address the problem of applicants who are unable to travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic and who must meet specific time-limited criteria,” said the State Department.
Meeting in-person allows consular officers to make sure the visa application is credible, while also allowing applicants to correct any mistakes on their application, the agency said. However, requiring a repeat applicant to be interviewed again would “significantly strain consular resources.”
For more information, see the full temporary final rule.