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U.S. Department of State expands waivers of in-person interview requirement for student and scholar visa applicants through 2021

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has announced that, through 2021, consular officers may waive the in-person interview requirement for certain individuals applying for F and M student visas, and some “academic J visas” (students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or specialists.) Generally speaking, and with exceptions including consular officer discretion, the in-person interview can be waived for F, M, and J renewal applications and first-time F, M, and J applications where the applicant is a citizen or national of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

This move by DOS to reduce the in-person interview requirement will positively impact many members of the UIC international community needing to obtain F, M, or J visas in the coming months. Many visa applicants will no longer need to travel to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to attend an in-person interview and consular officers will be able to address a backlog of visa applications more efficiently.

International students, scholars, and sponsoring departments should read the full announcement which includes a note about the continuation of National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) related to COVID-19 travel restrictions. In addition, since consular resources and local conditions can vary widely due to the ongoing pandemic, visa applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with their local U.S. Embassy or Consulate to confirm the level of services currently offered and to find guidelines for applying for a visa without an interview.

Questions about this announcement or anything related to the UIC international community can be directed to the Office of International Services at or (312) 996-3121.