New Nonimmigrant Visa Procedure Alert: Interview Waiver “Virtual Waiting Queue”

In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides a brand-new update from the U.S. Department of State, specifically for applicants who are going through the process of applying for a waiver of the in-person interview requirement, also known as the “Virtual Waiting Queue.” If you would like to know what this is all about and how the Virtual Waiting Queue can help you just keep on watching.

Did You Know? Under the law, all nonimmigrant visa applicants must be interviewed by an officer unless the interview is specifically waived by the U.S. Department of State. Decisions to waive the in-person interview requirement are made on a case-by-case basis.  In normal circumstances, an interview is necessary to verify important information about the applicant to determine their eligibility for permanent residence or an immigrant visa.

During the interview, the officer verifies that the applicant understood the questions on their application and grants the applicant an opportunity to revise any answers completed incorrectly or that have changed since filing the application.


Recently, our office received information from the U.S. Embassy in London regarding this brand-new visa interview waiver procedure for non-immigrant visa applicants. From what we know, while this procedure is first being implemented in London, more Embassies and Consulates worldwide are expected to adopt the waiver procedure in the coming months. Please note that while some applicants may be eligible for interview waiver under this new program, important considerations must be made along with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that the applicant can adequately succeed in passing the virtual interview.

Quite a few of our nonimmigrant visa clients who were eligible to have their visa interview waived, have been receiving a specific email notification from the Embassy stating that their applications have been placed in the “Virtual Waiting Queue.”

How does this process work?

Applicants who qualify to have interviews waived for their nonimmigrant visa applications will be placed in a virtual queue which will allow them to maintain possession of their passports and required documents until notified for further processing.

Applicants who qualify for interview waivers are notified via email with instructions on how to submit their passport and documents once the Consular Section is ready to receive their documents.

Eligible applicants must provide accurate and up-to-date contact information at the time of applying.

After adjudication, the Consular Section will return applicants’ passports through a courier service (such as FedEx or DHL) using the option selected at the time of visa registration, either home delivery or collection at the courier’s office.

In general, applicants who qualify for visa interview waivers are instructed to mail in and submit the following documents:

  • A valid passport
  • The applicant’s previous passport with their last issued U.S. visa (if applicable)
  • The applicant’s DS-160 confirmation page
  • The applicant’s courier-in receipt accessed via their AIS portal
  • A passport photo taken within the last six months and in the proper format
  • Applicants under 14 years old must also submit a copy of their polymer birth certificate and a copy of their parent’s valid U.S. visa

For those visas that are being approved through this process, the processing time is approximately 21 days.

Applicants who do not qualify or “opt” out of the virtual waiting queue interview waiver, must wait for an in-person appointment to be scheduled at their local U.S. Consulate or Embassy.

In what circumstances might an applicant not want their interview to be waived?

Those participating in the visa interview waiver program must attest that they have provided complete, accurate, and up-to-date information at the time of their application. For nonimmigrants applicants who would like to have the opportunity to explain any changes, deficiencies in the application, etc. it may be wise to undergo an in-person interview to further explain those changes to the officer.

If the information you provided at the time of your application is incomplete or deficient, you may run the risk of your visa being rejected by forgoing the in-person interview and not having the chance to correct the information provided. These applicants can request to opt out of the interview waiver process by emailing their Embassy or Consulate directly. Applicants would be wise to consult an attorney to discuss this option before taking further action. The downside to opting out is that you will not be scheduled for an in-person interview until the Embassy or Consulate has an available appointment date. For some Consulates, this may cause considerable delays.

Some applicants have wondered whether it is possible to expedite the visa issuance process where interviews have been waived. At the moment there is no clear expedite procedure for those eligible for the interview waiver, however the State Department has said this information will be provided in the next few months. As always, we will provide that information right here on our blog once it is available.

Questions? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.

Helpful Links


Need more immigration updates? We have created a new facebook group to address the impact of the new executive order and other changing developments related to COVID-19. Follow us there.

For other COVID 19 related immigration updates please visit our Immigration and COVID-19 Resource Center here.