State Department issued a cable on May 21, 2003, to all diplomatic and consular post regarding the waiver of personal appearance and interview for nonimmigrant visa application. According to the revised guidelines, among nonimmigrant visa applicants, only those who the consular officer concludes present no national security concerns and those who are 16 years old or under; 60 years old or older; diplomats, NATO officers and other members of international organization can be waived for personal interview. Others who qualify for a waiver include: an applicant who within 12 months of the expiration of the previously issued visa is seeking re-issuance of a nonimmigrant visa in the same classification and an alien for whom a waiver is warranted in the national interest or because of unusual circumstances. Under such revision, consular officers always have the option to require an interview of any applicant if they have reason to doubt credibility or veracity. These new regulations will be implemented no later than August 1, 2003.
The revisions are observed to be part of the government’s commitment to protect national security. The implementation of the new policy is expected to have a significant impact on the process of nonimmigrant visa applications. For one, there will be a substantial increase in the percentage of applicants interviewed. Since State Department requires using existing resources to implement the new interview guidelines, we should anticipate some visa processing backlogs in the future. For nonimmigrant visa applicants, this certainly means a much longer waiting period and more complicated procedures.