Due to the backlog of applications created by the pandemic, the U.S. State Department will waive H-1B in-person interviews and other non-immigrant visa applications through 2022. Applicants for H-1B, L-1 and O-1 visas applying from abroad won’t be required to do an in-person interview at a U.S. consulate. The press release announcing the waiver on December 23, said:
“The Department of State recognizes the positive impact of temporary work visa holders on the U.S. economy and is committed to facilitating nonimmigrant travel and reducing visa wait times… The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in profound reductions in the Department’s visa processing capacity.”
Consulate closures due to the Covid pandemic have resulted in long lines for visa applicants, and a backlog of applications and interviews. U.S. businesses are saying the delay in processing visa applications is one of the reasons for the current labor shortage. Jon Baselice, vice president of immigration policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said:
“The critical factor going forward will be the extent to which consulates exercise these newly-granted authorities; the more the State Department uses them, the more beneficial they will be to American companies.”
The State Department has also extended in-person interview exemptions through the end of 2022 for:
• Temporary Agricultural and Non-agricultural Workers (H-2 visas)
• Students (F and M visas)
• Student Exchange Visitors (Academic J visas)
Additionally, the State Department announcement gate authorization to waive the in-person interview for applicants renewing a visa in the same visa class within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration has been extended indefinitely.
In 2019, the last full year before the onset of the global pandemic in 2020, the State Department issued more than 188,000 H-1B visas and 77,000 L-1 visas to applicants living abroad.
A business immigration lawyer works with both employers who want to hire skilled foreign workers, and foreign nationals who want to come to the United States to work temporarily or permanently. Contact Godoy Law Office at 630-912-0322. Godoy Law Office serves the entire Chicago, Illinois area including DuPage, Cook, Kane, Will, and Lake Counties.
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