9 FAM 403.5
(U) NIV Interview by Consular Officer
(Office of Origin: CA/VO)
9 FAM 403.5-1 (U) STATUTORY, regulatory, and other Authorities
9 FAM 403.5-1(A) (U) Immigration and Nationality Act
(U) INA 222(h) (8 U.S.C. 1202(h)).
9 FAM 403.5-1(B) (U) Code of Federal Regulations
(U) 22 CFR 41.101; 22 CFR 41.102.
9 FAM 403.5-2 (U) Interview Requirement
b. (U) Every alien seeking an NIV must apply in person and be interviewed by a consular officer unless a specific exception allows for waiver of the interview requirement.
(1) (U) Generally, all applicants who are at least 14 years of age and not more than 79 must be interviewed in person. The Department requires nonimmigrant visa applicants to physically appear before a consular officer for a visa interview, unless the interview requirement has been waived. Following that in person interview, if you determine additional information is required of an applicant, you may contact the applicant to secure the required information in any manner you determine most effective and efficient for securing that information.
(2) (U) The circumstances in which you may waive an interview for a nonimmigrant applicant are limited to the categories set out in section 222(h)(1)(A) and (B) of the INA. See also 9 FAM 403.5-4(A) below.
(3) (U) If you receive a compelling case that does not qualify for an interview waiver under one of these categories, but where an interview waiver appears warranted, you may forward a recommendation for waiver through your VO/F post liaison.
(4) (U) If the applicant is within one of the categories set forth in 9 FAM 403.5-4(B) paragraph c below, for example because eligibility issues or national security concerns arise in the visa application, you must conduct a personal interview of the applicant.
d. (U) If none of the grounds in 9 FAM 403.5-4(B) below that mandate an in-person interview apply, any applicant (first-time or renewal) who is:
(1) (U) Under 14 years of age; or
(2) (U) Over 79 years of age
is exempt from the requirement of a visa interview.
9 FAM 403.5-3 (U) Nonimmigrant Visa Interviews
9 FAM 403.5-4 (U) Waivers of Interview Requirement
a. (U) Under INA 222(h), any alien applying for a (NIV who is at least 14 years of age and not more than 79 years of age must submit to an in-person interview unless he or she falls under an exception.
b. (U) The waiver of the interview requirement for an applicant does not change the requirements and standards of existing regulations and instructions with regard to security checks, visa classification, number of entries, and validity of visas. Even in cases in which the interview is waived, each case must have an associated DS-160 or, in exceptional cases as outlined in 9 FAM 403.2-5(A), alternate paper forms.
9 FAM 403.5-4(A) (U) Waiver of Interview
a. (U) If the individual is not already exempt from an interview requirement based on his or her age in accordance with 9 FAM 403.5-2 paragraph d, above you may waive the in-person interview requirement for an applicant if the applicant falls within a waiver category described below in 9 FAM 403.5-4(A)(1) below and the applicant is not within one of the categories set forth in 9 FAM 403.5-4(B) below.
b. (U) If the criteria in paragraph (a) are met, and waiving the interview would be in the national interest of the United States or is necessary due to unusual or emergent circumstances under 9 FAM 403.5-4(A)(1) paragraphs b or c, contact your VO/F post liaison to determine if a waiver is available.
c. (U) Remember to exercise the interview waiver authority with judgment and care. You remain ultimately responsible for the final decision. You must request an interview if the applicant is within one of the categories set forth in 9 FAM 403.5-4(B) paragraph c below, for example because additional information or clarification is needed as to the applicant's intentions or qualifications for a NIV prior to the issuance of a visa. Keep in mind that you always have the option to require an interview of any applicant if you doubt the alien’s credibility or veracity. You must also be vigilant to ensure that interview waiver procedures are not used to commit fraud.
9 FAM 403.5-4(A)(1) (U) Interview Waiver Categories
a. (U) Waiver by Consular Officers:
(U) You may waive the interview of any visa applicant who falls under one or more of the following categories in paragraphs a(1)-(3) below provided the applicant is not within one of the categories in 9 FAM 403.5-4(B):
(1) (U) Is within a class of nonimmigrants classifiable under the visa symbols A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (except personal or domestic employees of accredited officials), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, NATO-5, NATO-6, or TECRO E-1 and who is seeking a visa in such classification;
(2) (U) Is an applicant for a diplomatic type or official visa type as described in 22 CFR 41.26 or 22 CFR 41.27, respectively, and is applying for such visa using a diplomatic or official passport.
(3) (U) Renewals in the same category:
(a) (U) Is applying for the same NIV classification not more than 48 months after the date on which the prior visa expired (i.e., same visa class and same category of applicant within that visa class (principal or derivative)) until the date of 31 DEC 2021; and
(b) (U) Is applying in the consular district of his or her normal residence, unless otherwise prescribed in regulations that require an applicant to apply for a visa in the country of which such applicant is a national; and
(i) (U) For example, a B1/B2, L, or R visa holder who is seeking to renew his/her visa in the same NIV category within 48 months of his/her last visa’s expiration date within the consular district of his/her normal residence qualifies for interview waiver for renewals.
(ii) (U) On the other hand, an H-1B visa holder applying for an L-1 visa, an E-2 derivative spouse applying for a visa as an E-2 principal, or an F-2 derivative visa holder applying for an F-1 visa as the principal student all would need to appear for an interview.
(iii) (U) The adjudication may take place outside the 48-month window, as long as the application is made within 48 months of the previous visa’s expiration date. The criteria for making an application are defined in 9 FAM 403.2
(c) (U) Special considerations for applications to renew Student and Exchange Visitor visas:
(i) (U) Students (F and M applicants) are eligible for interview waiver, provided the applicant is re-applying to renew the same visa classification not more than 48 months after the date on which the prior visa expired and provided the applicant is renewing his or her visa either to: (a) continue participation in the same major course of study even if at a different institution; or (b) attend the same institution even if in a different major course of study.
(ii) (U) Exchange visitor visas (J visas) may only be renewed without an interview if the exchange visitor will continue participation in the same exchange visitor program, with the same Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) number from the previously issued visa.
(iii) (U) You must verify that the applicant's SEVIS record indicates a SEVIS status of "initial" or "active," and should request an interview if you identify any discrepancies between the current and previous visa applications or wish to interview the applicant for any other reason.
(4) (U) H-2A and H-2B Applicants:
(a) (U) Until December 31, 2021, an applicant for an H-2 visa in one of the following categories:
(i) (U) First-time H-2 applicants with no associated derogatory information. Note: DHS has concurred that the Department need not require fingerprints for first-time H-2 applicants worldwide. For applicants who previously submitted 10 fingerprints, consular officers should reuse those for the current application.
(ii) (U) First-time H-2 applicants with potential derogatory information that the officer can exclude as not rising to the level of an ineligibility without requiring the applicant appear for an interview (e.g., if an officer receives a report that the applicant absconded from a worksite, but ADIS records in PCQS confirm that the individual simply departed the United States in status).
(iii) (U) Applicants for an H-2 visa submitted within 48 months of the expiration of a previous nonimmigrant visa in any classification.
(iv) (U) Renewing H-2 applicants who were unlawfully present in the United States before April 1, 1997, or who were removed from the United States, who are no longer ineligible for a visa.
(b) (U) Exception: H-2 interviews cannot be waived under this extended criteria:
(i) (U) If there is any indication the applicant may be ineligible or even potentially ineligible, unless a consular officer previously reviewed and determined the same potentially derogatory information to not be sufficient to support ineligibility, and the current adjudicator can exclude the potential derogatory information as not rising to the level of an ineligibility without requiring the applicant appear for an interview (Note: applicants with new potential derogatory information uncovered during the current application will require an interview);
(ii) (U) If the (currently eligible) applicant has ever been denied a visa, unless the refusal was overcome of a waiver of ineligibility was obtained;
(iii) (U) If an applicant requires an advisory opinion, raises particular concerns, or the adjudicating consular officer otherwise believes the applicant should be interviewed, for any reason; or
(iv) (U) If the applicant is not a national or resident of the country in which s/he is applying.
b. (U) Waiver by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services: The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services may waive the interview requirement in individual cases after determining that such a waiver is necessary as a result of unusual or emergent circumstances. If you believe waiver of the interview is necessary due to unusual or emergent circumstances, contact your VO/F post liaison.
c. (U) Waiver by the Secretary in individual cases when in the national interest: The Secretary of State may waive the interview requirement in individual cases after determining that such a waiver is in the national interest of the United States. If you believe waiver of the interview would be in the national interest of the United States, but that applicant does not qualify for any other aforementioned waiver categories, contact your VO/F post liaison.
e. (U) Items Neither the Secretary nor Deputy Assistant Secretary May Waive: Neither the Secretary nor the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services may waive the interview for applicants required to appear for interview per 9 FAM 403.5-4(B) paragraph c below. 9 FAM 403.5-4(B) paragraph d exceptions remain at post's discretion.
9 FAM 403.5-4(A)(2) (U) Requirement for Interview Waiver Cases
(U) In all cases where the interview is waived, you must ensure the following requirements are met:
(1) (U) The applicant has been subjected to all appropriate biometric visa requirements as set forth in 9 FAM 303.5; and
(2) (U) The applicant is not within one of the categories in 9 FAM 403.5-4(B) below.
(4) (U) You must conduct an interview if the applicant is within one of the categories set forth in 9 FAM 403.5-4(B) paragraph c below, for example whenever you require additional clarification as to the intentions or qualifications of the applicant or you doubt the veracity of information in the visa application (see 9 FAM 402.3-4(E)).
9 FAM 403.5-4(A)(3) (U) Discontinued Interview Waiver Program Categories
(U) Posts must require an interview for the following categories of individuals that had previously been covered by the IWP (unless the applicant also falls in an interview waiver category described in 9 FAM 403.5-4(A)(1) above):
(1) (U) Any applicant whose visa expired more than 12 months, and not more than 48 months, prior to the date of application;
(2) (U) Any first-time Brazilian applicant aged 14 or 15 or between 66 and 79; and
(3) (U) Any first-time Argentine applicant aged 14 or 15 or between 66 and 79.
9 FAM 403.5-4(B) (U) Cases in Which Interview May Not Be Waived
a. (U) Eligibility for
interview waiver does not automatically entitle any applicant to a waiver of the
interview requirement. You must interview any and all interview
waiver-eligible applicants who you believe should be interviewed to more fully
assess their eligibility or intentions, or those whom you are concerned may be
from high-threat or high-fraud areas. Review all source information and liaise
with other agencies at post to remain aware of changing threat information.
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