Department of State Creates Interim Rule Limiting Personal Appearance Waivers for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicants

Although the Department of State (DOS) typically requires a physical interview for all nonimmigrant visa applicants, a variety of personal appearance waivers have traditionally been issued to various nonimmigrants in a range of nonimmigrant categories. However, in the post-September 11 U.S. environment, issues of national security led to more strict guidelines for consular officers and these officers began to physically interview many more nonimmigrant visa candidates.

In an effort to codify these changes, implemented both by the DOS and by consular officers, the DOS is issuing an interim rule to specify which personal appearance waivers will still be allowed to be granted. This interim rule will be effective August 1, 2003.

Consular officers may continue to waive the personal appearance requirement in six categories. According to DOS they are as follows:

·Children age 16 and under;

·Individuals age 60 years and older;

·A majority of applicants within the following visa categories: A, C-2, C-3, G, or NATO (note: these waivers do not apply to attendants, servants and personal employees);

·Nonimmigrants applicants seeking diplomatic or official visas;

·Nonimmigrant applicants who, within twelve months of the expiration of their previous visa, are seeking a re-issuance of a nonimmigrant visa in the same classification at the consular post of the alien’s usual residence, and for whom the consular officer has no indication of any noncompliance with U.S. immigration laws and regulations; and

·Nonimmigrant applicants who, based on concerns of national interest or because of unusual circumstances are warranted a waiver of personal appearance, as determined by a consular officer.

Please note that consular officers will no longer have the open-ended option to grant personal appearance waivers to applicants under the B, C-1, H-1, J and crew visas. There will be a 60 day period in which the DOS will accept written comments. Written comments should be submitted (two copies) to: Legislation and Regulations Division, Visa Services, Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-0106, or by e-mail to visaregs@state.gov.

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