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DOS Cable on Nonimmigrant Interviews
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In a recent cable notification the U.S. Department of State issued new interview requirements for nonimmigrant visa (NIV) applications in accordance with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA). The Act added a new Section 222(h) to the Immigration and Nationality Act. The new section sets out detailed statutory requirements for personal interviews of non-immigrant visa applicants in the INA for the first time. However, the Department's regulations permitting exemptions from interviews for certain diplomats and officials shall remain in effect.

The cable advises the posts to immediately implement the following requirements for interviews of non-immigrant applicants:
  • All NIV applicants who are ages 14 to 79 must be interviewed unless the alien is eligible for a waiver of the interview requirement

  • Any NIV applicant who is not a national or resident of the country in which he or she is applying must be interviewed, unless the applicant is eligible for a waiver of the interview

  • Any NIV applicant who was previously refused a visa must be interviewed, unless: 1) the visa was refused temporarily and the refusal was subsequently overcome; 2) the alien was found inadmissible, but the inadmissibility was waived; or 3) the applicant is eligible for a waiver of the interview

  • Any NIV applicant who is listed in CLASS may not be granted a waiver of interview, unless the alien would be eligible for a waiver under the requirements set forth in (c) above. Thus, for example, an alien refused a visa under 212(a) but granted a waiver of or otherwise overcame that ground of inadmissibility could be granted a waiver of the interview requirement in connection with a subsequent application, although that person may continue to be listed in CLASS because of the underlying ineligibility.

  • Any NIV applicant who is "from" a country designated by the Secretary of State as a state sponsor of terrorism, regardless of age, must be interviewed, unless the applicant is eligible for a waiver
New INA 222(h) gives the Secretary of State, not the consular officer, the statutory authority to waive interviews in the case of emergent circumstances or in the national interest. The Secretary of State may delegate her authority, however, and the Department's current regulations operate as such a delegation. Thus, consular officers may continue to waive interviews in accordance with the regulations, unless the above paragraphs require the consular officer to interview the NIV applicant.

The Department's regulations permitting exemptions from interviews for persons in A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO classifications, and applicants for diplomatic or officials visas, remain in effect. Consular officers shall apply those notwithstanding any of the above listed changes.

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