July 27, 2014

U.S. Mission to India Expands Interview Waiver Program

Program to include H-1B and individual L-1 visas; eligible visa holders no longer required to have in-person interviews with U.S. consular officers.

On November 19, the U.S. Mission to India announced that it has expanded its Interview Waiver Program (IWP), which was originally launched in early 2012. Eligible H-1B and L-1A/L-1B individual (non-blanket) visa holders applying to renew their visas are no longer required to have personal interviews with U.S. consular officers.

The Original IWP

In March 2012, the U.S. Mission to India introduced the IWP, which allows eligible individuals to apply for renewal of certain visas through a streamlined process. This process permits an applicant to bypass the requirement of appearing before a U.S. consular officer for an in-person interview. The original program applied to holders of B-1, B-2, J-2, H-4, C, and D visas. The original program also included children applying before their seventh birthday in any visa category and seniors applying on or after their 80th birthday in any visa category.

Expansion of the IWP

As a result of the IWP's success and in a continued effort to meet the increased demand for visas at U.S. consular posts in India, the U.S. Mission to India expanded the program. Under the expanded IWP, the following visa applicants may also be considered for the streamlined process:

  • H-1B temporary workers seeking to continue working for the same petitioner in the same classification
  • L-1A and L-1B individual (non-blanket) workers seeking to continue working for the same petitioner in the same classification
  • F-1 students seeking to continue in the same school and program
  • Children applying before their 14th birthday in any visa class

Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible for the IWP, a visa renewal application must be for the same visa category as the previously issued visa, which must have been issued in India after August 1, 2004. In addition, the previously issued visa must not be annotated with the phrase "clearance received" and must not have been lost or stolen. In the case of B, C, F, and J visas, the previously issued visa must still be valid or have expired within the last 48 months. In the case of H or L visas, the previously issued visa must still be valid or have expired within the last 12 months.

Please note that visa applicants will still need to make biometric appointments for fingerprint and photograph collection, as well as submit the required fees and DS-160 application form. Furthermore, please note that not all applications filed under the IWP will be accepted for streamlined processing, particularly incomplete and/or inaccurate applications.

For a complete list of eligibility requirements and application instructions, please go here.

Copyright © 2014 by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. All Rights Reserved.

About the Author

Eleanor Pelta  Morgan Lewis's, Labor and Employment law immigration and nation

Eleanor Pelta is a partner in Morgan Lewis's Labor and Employment Practice. With her practice focused on immigration and nationality law, Ms. Pelta assists corporate clients in various industries with the international transfer of key personnel. She is particularly knowledgeable about managing high-volume employee transfers, as her background includes assisting employers in gaining temporary and permanent visas for all types of business, scientific and executive personnel. Additionally, she advises clients on strategic issues involving movement of staff internationally...


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Eric S. Bord is a partner in Morgan Lewis's Labor and Employment Practice. Mr. Bord's practice focuses on immigration matters involving the recruitment, hiring, transfer, and retention of international personnel worldwide. In addition, he has particular knowledge in the areas of immigration-related compliance, I-9 and E-Verify rules, immigration investigations, and immigration due diligence for corporate transactions.


A. James Vázquez-Azpiri is a partner in Morgan Lewis's Labor and Employment Practice. Mr. Vázquez-Azpiri focuses his practice on business immigration law, assisting corporate clients with hiring and retaining foreign employees with regard to labor certifications, specialty occupation petitions and intra-company transfers. Mr. Vázquez-Azpiri is also a leading expert on immigration law compliance in the context of mergers, acquisitions and corporate restructuring. Mr. Vázquez-Azpiri helps clients think and work proactively by providing them...


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Lisa Stephanian Burton, employment law attorney, osha compliance legal issues

Lisa Stephanian Burton is a partner in Morgan Lewis's Labor and Employment Practice. Ms. Burton counsels clients on a variety of labor and employment issues, including compliance with state and federal labor and employment laws and regulations; Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) matters; employment practices and policies; structuring the workforce; labor and employment implications of mergers and acquisitions; and hiring, firing, and reductions in force (RIF). She represents clients before state and federal agencies as well as before state and federal courts...


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Malcolm Goeschl is a partner in Morgan Lewis's Labor and Employment Practice. Mr. Goeschl concentrates his practice on business immigration law, with a particular focus on immigration-related challenges facing emerging businesses founded by, or seeking to employ, foreign talent. He has more than 14 years of immigration law experience involving a wide range of clients, including large multinationals and small start-ups.

Mr. Goeschl is a frequent speaker at leading professional and industry events and has recently been published in publications including Interpreter Releases, Bender's...


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Tracy Evlogidis is a partner in Morgan Lewis's Labour and Employment Practice. Tracy regularly advises companies and individuals on a full range of UK immigration issues, from visiting the UK to securing a British passport. 

Tracy has a wide client base, including media and entertainment clients and corporate organisations in industries such as financial services, technology, retail, education, and legal services. She also works with a number of private banks in advising high-net-worth individuals.

Tracy also advises on exceptional or complex...

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