The Interview Waiver Program (IWP) was first introduced in 2012 as a pilot program in an effort to promote travel and tourism to the United States for certain nonimmigrant applicants. The IWP was made permanent this year in 2014. The criteria for the IWP is published in the Foreign Affairs Manual, although it is important tocheck the consulate’s requirements because they can vary.
Generally, all foreign nationals applying for a nonimmigrant visa (e.g. B-1/B-2, E, L, TN visa, etc.) must appear in person at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad for an interview by a consular officer. Under the IWP, however, the consulate officer may waive the in-person interview for certain nonimmigrant visa applicants. This includes individuals who are seeking renewal of their nonimmigrant visas.
Under this category, a consular officer may generally waive the in-person interview for an applicant who is applying to renew a visa that is still valid or expired less than a year ago in the same visa classification, is applying in the consular district of his/her normal residence, has been subjected to necessary fingerprint requirements, and is not subject to the criteria mandating in-person interviews (e.g. security concerns, indications of noncompliance with US laws, etc.).
Furthermore, certain nonimmigrant visa applicants may avoid both an in-person biometrics (fingerprinting) visit to the Applicant Service Center and the Embassy for an interview. The requirements of each consulate may vary, and the consulates generally reserve the right to interview any applicant even if he or she appears to meet all of the criteria for the Interview Waiver Program (IWP).
Wilson Law Group looks forward to evaluating your particular situation and choosing the best course of action for you and your family. Please feel free to contact our office at 612-436-7100 or via web.