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Amid COVID-19 surge, US drops personal interviews for H-1B, L-1 Visas for now

In response to rising concerns about COVID-19 instances, the US has stated that for the entire year of 2022, it will exempt the in-person interview requirement for a variety of visa applicants, including H-1B employees and students, many of whom are from India.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US businesses to hire foreign workers in specialised vocations that require theoretical or technical knowledge.

Technology firms rely on it to hire tens of thousands of workers from countries such as India and China each year.

Consular officers are now temporarily authorised, through December 31, 2022, to forgo in-person interviews for certain individual petition-based nonimmigrant work visas and their eligible derivatives in the following categories, according to the Department of State.

Individuals in Specialty Occupations (H-1B visas), Trainee or Special Education Visitors (H-3 visas), Intracompany Transferees (L visas), Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement (O visas), Athletes, Artists, and Entertainers (P visas), and Participants in International Cultural Exchange Programs (P visas) are all eligible for H-1B visas (Q visas).

Additionally, the Secretary of State has extended the ability of consular officials to waive the in-person interview for the following nonimmigrant visa categories through December 31, 2022: H-2 visas for temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers, F and M visas for students, and Academic J visas for student exchange visitors, according to the news release.

On a case-by-case basis and depending on local conditions, embassies and consulates may still demand an in-person interview.

According to the statement, applicants should consult the websites of the embassy and consulate for more information on this development, as well as the current operating status and services.

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