In a statement, the DOS said consular officers were authorized through the end of 2021 to adjudicate visa applications without an in-person interview, if candidates match certain criteria.
Typically, after completing your F-1 visa application online, the next step is to interview at your country’s US embassy or consulate.
However, you can now get an F-1 student visa for the US without an interview if:
- You have been previously issued any type of visa (including tourist visas), and have never been denied a visa, and have no ineligibility or potential ineligibility.
- You are a citizen of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), and have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility.
Are you eligible for an interview waiver?
The DOS announcement is especially good news for first-time applicants from the 39 countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program. These include the UK, France, Germany, and most European nations, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.
Many F-1 student visa applicants will still need to interview, including those from India and China, unless they have been previously issued any type of US visa.
However, applicants from non VWP countries whose prior visa was issued when they were less than 14 years of age, the DOS states, may need to submit biometric fingerprints, but can still be approved for an interview waiver.
The new visa rules also apply to M-1 visas, for people undertaking a vocational course of study rather than a degree program, and J visas, issued to students on international exchange programs as well as academics and professors.
The DOS said: ‘The Department recognizes the important contributions these students make to our college and university campuses [and] the positive impact they have on US communities.
‘The Department is committed to supporting the US academic community [and] recognizes this is a critical period of time for students seeking to begin their studies at academic institutions across the United States.’
Good news for MBA and master's candidates
For aspiring MBA and master’s students with their sights set on top US business schools, the latest visa news is encouraging—especially following disruption to the issuing of F-1 visas and the ban on the issuing of new H-1B work visas, which has now been lifted, experienced under President Trump.
US business school professionals are impressed by what appear to be increasingly welcoming policies towards international students.
In a LinkedIn post, Jason Hall, head of recruitment and marketing for MBA and Executive MBA programs at Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business, said the news almost sounded too good to be true.
Now, the hope is that a more flexible approach to visa regulations will continue beyond 2021 and continue to encourage more business school candidates to pursue MBA and master’s programs in the US.
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