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Key Points

  • The DOS will waive in-person interviews for F, M, and academic J applicants due to COVID-19
  • In-person visa interviews will be waived through Dec. 31, 2021
  • Individuals must meet certain eligibility criteria to have an in-person interview waived
  • The waiver applies only to first-time F, M, and academic J applicants
  • Consular officers have the discretion to approve or deny an interview waiver


The Department of State (DOS) has expanded an existing policy to waive in-person interviews for visa applicants due to COVID-19. The policy now extends to F, M, and academic J applicants.

What are the Changes?

Through December 31, 2021, consular officers may waive visa interviews for first-time applicants in the F, M, and academic J visa categories. Those individuals include professors, specialists, research scholars, and short-term scholars.

To have an in-person interview waived, individuals must meet certain eligibility criteria. Applicants must already have a visa (the specific visa type does not matter), and they must meet all other eligibility requirements for the visa that they are applying for. Individuals who have previously had a visa denied do not qualify for the in-person interview waiver unless the visa refusal was ultimately dismissed. Individuals must be applying for an F, M, or academic J visa for the first time, and they must be a citizen or national of a country in the Visa Waiver Program.

Employers and applicants should know that consular officers have the discretion to approve or deny in-person interview waivers.

Looking Ahead

Although this update is a broader initiative of the DOS, employers, and applicants are encouraged to contact the nearest US embassy or consulate for further information on current services available and for additional guidance on applying for a visa without an accompanying in-person interview.

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