The In-Person Interview Requirement Has Been Waived for Thousands of Immigrants by the U.S. State Department

The coronavirus pandemic has led to many changes within the government and how it operates. One of the most recent changes has been made regarding immigration, and what requirements there are to gain legal entry to the United States. This change should make it faster and simpler for U.S. consulate officers to process visa applications, which will make gaining entry to the country faster as well.

What Has Changed?

On Monday, December 13th, the United States Department of State ruled that consular officers can waive the requirement for an in-person interview for certain applicants seeking a visa. This new rule applies to repeat applicants, but only be applies if they were approved for a visa the first time they applied for one in the same classification.

This new rule will remain in effect for 2 years and will end on December 13th of 2023. The rule claims that this change was made to help assist certain applicants who have to meet time-sensitive criteria but have not been able to do so as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who Qualifies for a Waived Interview?

Anyone who is applying for an immigrant visa will no longer be required to appear in person at an American consulate for execution of their application, an interview, and to take an oath if they:

  • Received their immigrant visa any time after August 4th, 2019
  • Could not travel to the United States using the visa they were approved for because of the pandemic
  • Are seeking the same visa as the one they were initially granted and are still qualified to receive it
  • Have not been impacted by circumstances that could change their eligibility for the visa

This new ruling will apply to almost 49,000 people. Whether the in-person portion of the visa process will be waived for specific people is up to consular officers, who may opt to conduct the interview over the phone or through email instead.

Why Are Interviews Part of the Immigration Process?

The United States includes in-person interviews as part of the immigration and visa process in order to determine whether applicants meet the necessary requirements. Interviews are also used to verify the information the applicant put in their application, and oftentimes the applicant will need to present forms of identity, proof of citizenship in their home country, and more. In addition, applicants seeking visas for work are required to prove they have the skills necessary for the job they plan to work in America. Interviewers at the consulates want to ensure the people they are recommending for entry into the country will be positive additions to the workforce and the country overall.

Tips For a Successful Visa Interview

When someone is required to attend an interview regarding their visa application, in person or virtually, they may feel nervous and wonder what it will be like. This feeling is natural and reasonable, and understanding what happens at these interviews and what can be done to make an interview go well can help ease the stress. Here are some tips for visa interviews:

  • Prove your ties to home: Anyone seeking a visa to work in the United States will be viewed as intending to immigrate to the country under United States law. Therefore, the most successful visa interviews are ones in which the interviewee can prove to the consular officer that their reasons for going back to their home country are stronger than any reason they may have to stay in America. To prove ties to their home country, interviewees can show things such as property ownership, family still living there, a promise of employment in the future, etc.
  • Interview alone: The officer interviewing potential visa recipients wants to hear directly from the recipients, not from their friends or family. Interviewees can create a negative impression if they bring family and have their family speak on their behalf during the interview. Part of the interview is intended to give the consular officer an idea of how the interviewee conducts themselves, which can only be done when the interviewee speaks for themselves.
  • Know the details: A consular officer may ask about specific details regarding the job or program an interviewee plans to go to the United States for. Interviewees should have a thorough understanding of why they are coming to the country and how they will be beneficial to the job or program.
  • Be concise: Consular officers receive a lot of applications and have to interview many people each day, so some interviews may be less than 3 minutes long. It is important to make a good first impression and keep the answers to the consular officer’s questions short, informative, and to the point.
  • Stay positive: If the consular officer decides to deny an interviewee’s visa, that interviewee should not try to argue with the officer to prove why they should have been approved. Instead, they should ask the officer what they could have done or what they can to do be approved in the future. They should also ask the officer for the reason their visa was denied in writing.

Questions Asked at Visa Interviews

Every visa interview will be different, and the questions asked will depend on the specific circumstances in an interviewee’s life. However, some examples of common questions asked at these interviews include:

  • Where is the job you plan to work?
  • How much money will you make at this job?
  • What are the job requirements?
  • Do you have a degree? Where did you get it?
  • What makes you qualified for this job?
  • Where will you live in the United States?
  • How did you meet the employer sponsoring you?
  • Do you have a client letter?
  • Will you bring your family to the United States with you?
  • How long will you stay in the United States?

These questions are likely to be asked at most visa interviews. Knowing what to expect regarding the information consular officers will be looking for can help interviewees get their visas approved.

Contact an Attorney Today

If you are seeking a visa to work in the United States and need legal counsel, contact Sebastian Simon Law Group, PLLC today. We provide empathetic and professional legal representation to people facing complex immigration matters and work tirelessly on behalf of our clients to get their visas approved. We understand that the immigration and visa process is stressful and complicated, which is why we place the needs of our clients above all else. Contact us today at (713) 839-0639 or via our contact form.