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:

Important Announcement on Waivers of the Interview Requirement for Certain Nonimmigrant Visas

  • 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!