Happy New Year Travel News: In-Person Visa Waivers & Southern African Travel Restrictions Lifted.
The Department of State (DOS) and the Biden Administration are bringing Happy New Year News for some travelers and visa applicants.
- New Waivers of In-Person Visa Interviews for Some Applicants
The DOS has announced that Consular officers, through the end of 2022, will be able to use their discretionary power to waive the in-person interview requirement for certain temporary employment nonimmigrant visa applicants with USCIS approved petitions.
This new discretionary power applies to H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q visa applicants who:
- are applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence
- were previously issued any type of visa, and
- have not had any prior visa refusal or apparent or potential ineligibility issues
First-time visa applicants must:
- Be a citizen or national of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
- Have no apparent or potential ineligibility to obtaining a visa and
- Have previously traveled to the U.S. under the WWP using ESTA
Our Key Recommendations and Reminders for this new opportunity:
- U.S. consulates have the discretion to implement, or not, the interview waiver policies.
- The implementation of the program will depend on each local consulate.
- Applicants must review the website of the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate for detailed information on what services are available and instructions to apply for a visa without an interview.
- Visa applications must be very well prepared as the visa approval or denial decision could be solely made on the paper application.
- Planning for flexibility in the process is an ongoing key element of the process.
To learn more, click the link below:
- Southern African Travel Restrictions Lifted
As of Dec. 31, 2021, at 12:01 am, the Biden Administration will remove the 14-day travel restrictions on individuals from southern African countries.
These COVID-related `travel restrictions have been in effect since Nov. 29, 2021, for travelers from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
The following requirements are still in effect: all travelers to the United States, unless otherwise excepted, must be fully vaccinated and present a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of travel.
As always, thank you for your readership, partnership, and trust.
We look forward to a strong, healthy, and prosperous New Year!