In response to the rising number of COVID-19 instances, the US has stated that it would eliminate the in-person interview requirement for all visa applicants in 2022, including H-1B employees and students from India.
With the H-1B non-immigrant visa, US corporations may hire foreign employees in specialty jobs requiring theoretical or technical competence. Every year, technology businesses recruit tens of thousands of workers from nations like India and China.
The Department of State stated on Thursday that consular officials may now waive in-person interviews for certain individual petition-based nonimmigrant work visas and their eligible derivatives: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement (O visas), Athletes, Artists, and Entertainers (P visas), and Participants in International Cultural Exchange Programs (H-1B visas) (Q visas).
The Secretary of State has also expanded the power of consular officials to forgo in-person interviews for the following nonimmigrant visa categories: Temporary Agricultural and Non-agricultural Workers (H-2 visas), Students (F and M visas), and Academic J visas.
Depending on the circumstances, embassies and consulates may still demand an in-person interview. Applicants should visit the embassy and consulate websites for further information on current operations and services.
To help nonimmigrants travel and reduce visa wait times, the State Department says it “recognises the tremendous contributions of overseas visitors to our communities and schools.”
This authority to forego in-person interviews for applicants renewing visas within 48 months of the previous visa’s expiry has been extended indefinitely.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department’s visa processing capacity was reduced. As global travel recovers, the US is adopting temporary actions to shorten visa wait times while retaining national security as a priority.
Last year, the US closed its borders to numerous nations, including India, because of the coronavirus outbreak. Later, only travellers with particular visas could travel.
From November 8, all overseas passengers, including Indians, must produce evidence of a negative coronavirus test before boarding an aircraft to the US.
It also applies to temporary employees who satisfy specific criteria, such as filing for a visa in their country of nationality or residency.
This authority allows consular officers to waive the visa interview requirement for first-time individual petition-based H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q applicants who have never been refused a visa, until waived, and who have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility (ESTA).
The Omicron strain is now responsible for 73% of all Covid infections in the US. In just one week, the CDC reported a roughly six-fold rise in omicron infection rates.
Omicron was initially identified as a threat by African scientists on November 26th.
There are now roughly 90 mutants worldwide, including India.
The Omicron variant’s severity is unclear.
According to the latest Johns Hopkins University figures, there have been 51,814,812 coronavirus infections in the US, with 815,423 deaths.