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USA updates visa interview waivers and USCIS guidance

The US Department of State has confirmed changes to the interview waiver system for non-immigrant visa applications, while the US Customs and Immigrations Service (USCIS) has updated guidance for students.

The Department of State said that non-immigrant visa applicants in any classification, including student visas, can be eligible for a visa interview waiver if they have previously been issued with a non-immigrant visa (except a B visa) and are applying within 48 months of the most recent visa’s expiry. These rules will remain until further notice.

In late 2021, the Department issued temporary waivers to reduce the post-Covid backlog. Interview waivers for first-time applicants from US visa-waiver countries are no longer available under the new rules. Industry stakeholders have been calling for the practice to be made permanent. More at: Meanwhile, USCIS has confirmed that F-1 students seeking the STEM extension of OPT post-study work can now be employed by startup companies.

The new USCIS guidance also clarifies that F and M students must have a foreign residence that they do not intend to abandon, but that such students can still apply for student visa extensions while an application is pending for a green card. For more details on the latest USCIS changes, see story at: