The U.S. Interview Waiver Program
The U.S. Interview Waiver Program (IWP), also known as the Visa Interview Waiver Program, is a programme managed by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs that allows interview requirements for some non-immigrant visa applicants to be waived in certain circumstances.
Interview Waiver Program Requirements
A consular officer can waive an interview for a visa application if any of the following conditions apply.
Not all embassies and consulates must follow the IWP’s waiver criteria. Some consulates, in particular, may apply the IWP for only a part of the criteria and impose additional criteria. For example, the IWP has been implemented only for the B-1/B-2, C-1/C2, and D visa types at the embassy in Georgetown, Guyana.
Age-based interview waiver
If none of the reasons for requiring an in-person interview applies, applicants who meet either of the following two conditions may be granted a waiver:
- Under 14 or;
- Over 79 years of age
Waiver of interviews for diplomats or officials
Most Official and Diplomatic Visa Applicants qualify for the Interview Waiver Program
Renewals with no interviews
Interview waivers are available for individuals reapplying for the same visa class that they held previously if either of the following two conditions are met and none of the other reasons for requiring an in-person interview applies:
- Renewals within the first year: If the applicant renews a visa that is still valid or expired less than a year ago, an interview may be waived if the applicant renews the visa in the same classification. An F-1 visa holder, for example, can obtain an interview waiver for an F-1 visa, but an F-2 visa holder cannot. To qualify for the interview waiver, any biometric requirements must have been met when the previous visa was issued or separately. It should be noted that F, J, and M visa holders must meet additional requirements listed after the bullet points.
- Renewal 12-48 months after the expiry date
All of the following conditions must be met:
- The visa must not fall into the following categories: E, H, L, P, or R. (F, J, and M visas have different rules).
- The visa is renewed between 12 and 48 months after the previous visa’s expiration date.
- The applicant must be a national or resident of the country for which the visa is applied.
- The applicant has fulfilled all of the biometric requirements.
Renewals of exchange and student and visitor visas
Exchange and Student visitor visas (F, J, and M) can be renewed using either of the two methods described above, but both conditions must be met:
- For F and M visas, the programme, the institution, or both must be identical to the original visa. For J visas, the SEVIS number must remain the same for the interview to be waived.
- The applicant must be in SEVIS status, and an interview may be requested if there are any discrepancies between the current and previous visa applications or for any other reason.
Personal appearance requirements that cannot be waived
Personal appearance may be waived for candidates chosen for interview based on random selection. Other reasons could include the following:
- A previous visa rejection.
- The annotation “Clearance Received” on the most recently issued visa.
- A criminal record.
- A history of immigration violations.
- Other red flags.