9 FAM 403.5

(U) NIV Interview by Consular Officer

(CT:VISA-538;   03-26-2018)
(Office of Origin:  CA/VO/L/R)

9 FAM 403.5-1  (U) STATUTORY, regulatory, and other Authorities

9 FAM 403.5-1(A)  (U) Immigration and Nationality Act

(CT:VISA-1;   11-18-2015)

(U) INA 222(h) (8 U.S.C. 1202(h)).

9 FAM 403.5-1(B)  (U) Code of Federal Regulations

(CT:VISA-93;   03-17-2016)

(U) 22 CFR 41.101; 22 CFR 41.102.

9 FAM 403.5-1(C)  (U) Executive Order

(CT:VISA-415;   07-27-2017)

(U) Executive Order 13780 on Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States (March 6, 2017).

9 FAM 403.5-2  (U) Interview Requirement

(CT:VISA-415;   07-27-2017)

a. Unavailable  

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. 

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(1)  (U) Generally, all applicants who are at least 14 years of age and not more than 79 must be interviewed in person. 

(2)  (U) The circumstances in which the consular officer 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 9 FAM 403.5-4(A). 

(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 admissibility issues or national security concerns arise in the visa application process for applicants for whom the interview requirement has been waived, or for applicants under 14 and over 79, 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

(CT:VISA-415;   07-27-2017)

(U) There are several steps in the nonimmigrant visa (NIV) process, each of which will be discussed in detail in 9 FAM 403.29 FAM 403.10.

9 FAM 403.5-4  (U) Waivers of Interview Requirement

(CT:VISA-415;   07-27-2017)

a. (U) Section 9 of the March 6, 2017, Executive Order 13780 (E.O.) on Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States suspended the Interview Waiver Program (IWP) for all nationalities, although it permits interview waivers under "specific statutory exceptions."  Under INA 222(h) and E.O. 13780, any alien applying for a nonimmigrant visa (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 one of the "specific statutory exceptions" set forth in 9 FAM 403.5-4(A)(1).

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

(CT:VISA-538;   03-26-2018)

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, 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) and the applicant is not ineligible for interview waiver for any of the reasons further set forth in 9 FAM 403.5-4(B).

b. (U) If you encounter a case that does not fall within a waiver category outlined in 9 FAM 403.5-4(A)(1), and the individual is not ineligible for a waiver under 9 FAM 403.5-4(B), 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 and any needed additional information whenever you require additional clarification as to the applicant's intentions or qualifications for a nonimmigrant visa (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.

d. Unavailable   

9 FAM 403.5-4(A)(1)  (U) Interview Waiver Categories

(CT:VISA-538;   03-26-2018)

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 a(1)-(3) below and who satisfies the requirements of 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 attendants, servants, or personal 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 or official visa as described in 22 CFR 41.26 or 22 CFR 41.27, respectively.

(3)  (U) Renewals in the same category within 12 months:

(a)  (U) Is applying for the same nonimmigrant visa classification not more than 12 months after the date on which the prior visa expired (i.e., same visa class and same category (principal or derivative)); 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 category within 12 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 spouse applying for a visa as an E-2 principal, or an F-2 visa holder applying for an F-1 visa all would need to appear for an interview.

(iii)    (U) The adjudication may take place outside the 12-month window, as long as the application is made within12 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 12 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.

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.

d. Unavailable     

9 FAM 403.5-4(A)(2)  (U) Requirement for Interview Waiver Cases

(CT:VISA-415;   07-27-2017)

(U) All cases where the interview is waived must meet the following requirements:

(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 ineligible for interview waiver based on criteria in 9 FAM 403.5-4(B) below. 

(3)  Unavailable   

(4)  (U) You must conduct an interview 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

(CT:VISA-415;   07-27-2017)

(U) Effective immediately, 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)):

(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;

(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

(CT:VISA-415;   07-27-2017)

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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9 FAM 403.5-5  Unavailable     

(CT:VISA-415;   07-27-2017)

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9 FAM 403.5-5(A)  Unavailable   

(CT:VISA-538;   03-26-2018)

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9 FAM 403.5-5(B)  Unavailable   

(CT:VISA-415;   07-27-2017)

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9 FAM 403.5-5(C)   

(CT:VISA-538;   03-26-2018)

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9 FAM 403.5-5(D)  Unavailable   

(CT:VISA-415;   07-27-2017)

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9 FAM 403.5-5(D)(1)  Unavailable   

(CT:VISA-538;   03-26-2018)

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9 FAM 403.5-5(D)(2)  Unavailable   

(CT:VISA-538;   03-26-2018)

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9 FAM 403.5-5(D)(3)  Unavailable   

(CT:VISA-415;   07-27-2017)

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9 FAM 403.5-5(E)  Unavailable   

(CT:VISA-126;   05-09-2016)

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9 FAM 403.5-5(E)(1)  Unavailable   

(CT:VISA-538;   03-26-2018)

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9 FAM 403.5-5(E)(2)  Unavailable   

(CT:VISA-126;   05-09-2016)

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