U.S. Mission in India Expands Interview Waiver Program
The U.S. Mission in India has announced expansion of the Interview Waiver Program (IWP), launched in March 2012, which allows qualified individuals to apply for additional classes of visas without being interviewed in person by a U.S. consular officer. The U.S. embassy in New Delhi expects this expansion to affect thousands of visa applicants in India.
Under the current IWP, Indian visa applicants who are renewing visas that are still valid or expired within the past 48 months may submit their applications for consideration for streamlined processing, including waiver of a personal interview, within the following visa categories:
- Business/Tourism (B-1 and/or B-2)
- Dependent (J-2, H-4, L-2)
- Transit (C) and/or Crew Member (D) – including C-1/D
- Children applying before their seventh birthday traveling on any visa class
- Applicants applying on or after their 80th birthday traveling on any visa class
Under the expanded IWP, the following Indian applicants may also be considered 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 H-1B visas
- Temporary workers on individual L-1A or individual L-1B visas
The renewal application must be within the same classification as the previous visa. If the previous visa is annotated with “clearance received,” however, that applicant is not eligible for a waiver of a personal interview.
Not all applications will be accepted for streamlined processing. As always, consular officers may interview any visa applicant in any category. Applicants who are renewing their visas may still need an appointment for biometrics (fingerprint and photograph) collection. All applicants must submit all required fees and the DS-160 application form.
The U.S. embassy in New Delhi said that this is “one of many steps the Department of State is taking to meet increased visa demand in India.” The embassy explained that in 2011, consular officers in India processed nearly 700,000 nonimmigrant visa applications, an increase of more than 11 percent over the previous year. Currently, applicants generally wait fewer than 10 days for visa interview appointments and spend less than one hour at U.S. consular facilities in India. In September 2012, the U.S. Diplomatic Mission to India implemented a new visa processing system throughout India that further standardizes procedures and simplifies fee payment and appointment scheduling through a new website.
For more details about procedures for submitting a renewal application, see this site.