Home » US Immigration - Visas » US Visa Interview Waiver(48 month rule, prior stamping) extended for 2024 & beyond

US Visa Interview Waiver(48 month rule, prior stamping) extended for 2024 & beyond

Many of you have been waiting for an update from the US Department of State if they would extend the interview waiver options that are supposed to end on December 31st, 2023. As they hinted at in previous press discussions, they made an official announcement today extending the previous US Visa Interview waiver options for certain eligible non-immigrant visa applicants for the full year 2024 and beyond. In this article, we will review the press release by the US Department of State and how it works for 2024 and beyond.

Background: US Visa Interviews Waiver in Years 2022 & 2023

To address the extensive delays in US Visa processing at US Consulates and Embassies, the US Department of State announced a waiver of US Visa interviews for certain non-immigrants in December 2021. It included US visa interview Waivers for certain non-immigrant visa holders, such as H1B, H4, L1, F1, etc. This provision started on January 1st, 2022, and lasted until December 31st, 2022.

Zolve Mobile Ad
HomeAbroad Mobile Ad

Based on the interview waiver program’s success in 2022, they announced the extension of the original provisions until December 31st, 2023. With the latest news announcement, they are extending it for 2024 and beyond. Let’s look at these details in the following sections.

US Visa Interviews Waived for certain visa applicants for 2024 & beyond

The US Department of State, after discussions with the US Department of Homeland Security, has determined that the interview waiver options for certain non-immigrant visa applicants that were in place for the last couple of years are of national interest.

Continuing the previous provisions, they are granting the US Consular Officers the authority and discretion to waive in-person interviews for certain eligible non-immigrant visa applicants.

Eligible Non-immigrant Visa Categories for in-Person Interview Waiver

  • First-time H2 Visa(H2A, H2B) applicants, who apply for temporary agricultural & non-agricultural workers)
  • Any other non-immigrant Visa applicants applying for non-immigrant visas such as below:
    • They have not explicitly given a complete list of eligible non-immigrant visas. Based on previous guidance, the complete list of non-immigrant visas eligible for an in-person interview waiver is listed below:
      • H1B (Temporary work Visa holders in Speciality Occupation)
      • F and M Visa holders(International Students)
      • J Visa holders( Academic Exchange Visitors)
      • H3 Visa holders(Trainee or special education visitors)
      • L1 Visa holders(Intracompany Transfers)
      • O1 Visa holders(Extraordinary ability or achievement individuals)
      • P Visas( Artists, Athletes, Entertainers)
      • Q Visas( International cultural exchange programs participants)
      • Qualifying dependents of all the above visa holders like H4, L2, O2, J2, F2, etc.

Let’s now look at the interview waiver criteria for the above visa types.

48-Month Rule for Interview Waiver for Renewal of Same Visa Category

The US Department of State said that the 48-month rule for US Visa Dropbox Renewal for applicants applying for US Visa renewal in the same category continues to be in place until further notice. It means that it will be available in 2024 and beyond.

How does the 48-Month Dropbox Stamping Rule Work for Same Visa Cateogy Renewal?

As per the 48-month dropbox stamping or interview waiver rule, if you apply for US Visa renewal in the same category within 48 months from your visa expiry date, you will be eligible for Dropbox or interview waiver visa stamping. This applies to most visa types, except a few like ‘Blanket L1’.

For example, if you have an L2 visa and apply for L2 renewal within 48 months of your L2 visa expiry, you will be eligible for dropbox stamping ( interview waiver).

48-Month Rule for Interview Waiver, when Applying for a Different Visa Category

As per the news announcement, any non-immigrant visa applicant applying for any non-immigrant visa type(does not have to be in the same category) can get an in-person interview waiver, if they meet the below two criteria:

  1. They should have a previously issued US Visa in any non-immigrant visa classification unless the issued visa was a B Visa ( B1/B2 Visitor or B1 Business Visa).
  2. The applicant is applying within 48 months from the expiration of the most recently issued US Visa.

For example, if you have a previously issued F1 visa and now applying for an O1 visa within 48 months of your F1 visa expiry, you will be eligible for the dropbox stamping ( in-person interview waiver). But, if you had a previously issued B1/B2 visa and now applying for an O1 visa, then you would not be eligible for interview waiver or dropbox.

How long is the 48-Month Interview Waiver Rule Valid for?

The implementation of the new 48-month interview waiver rule for someone applying for a visa stamping in a different category starts on January 1st, 2024 and will continue to be available for the entire year 2024. This new 48-month rule will be valid indefinitely until further notice. It will be reviewed annually as well.

The current 48-month rule for renewal in the same visa category continues to be valid now, in 2024, and beyond that as well until further notice.

General Requirements for Interview Waiver

The applicants must meet the below requirements to be eligible for the interview waiver

  • They are applying in the country of their residence or nationality. It means that if you currently live in the US, then you can only apply in your home country. But, if you live in a country other than your home country, you may apply for an interview waiver in that country or your home country.
  • They have never been refused a US Visa in the past. If there was a refusal, they should have overcome that or got it waived.
  • They do not have any apparent or potential ineligibility to get a US Visa.

It is always up to the discretion of the US Consular officer to ask anyone to attend an in-person interview, even if you are eligible for an interview waiver.

Below is the screenshot of the official announcement from the US Dept of State Website

US Visa Interview Waiver Requirements Extened for 2024 and Beyond

What are your thoughts on the new 48-month rule and continuation of the previous interview waiver options? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

   

Other Articles

63 Comments

  1. hi Team,

    My last H1B visa got expired on 12 Jun 2020 and since then I have been filing H1B extensions in USA. My 48 month window closes on 12 Jun 2024. If I book an appointment now but the date is in July 2024 , will I be eligible for Dropbox ? (I mean at the time of booking I am withing 48 months) or the appointment date has to be withing 48 months?

    Reply
  2. Hi,
    I had my previous H1b Visa got expired in Oct 2019, it has been more than 48 Months.
    Now I am planning to schedule an appointment and after providing all the pre-requisites answer I am getting In person (for emergency only) or Drop box (interview waiver) ?

    Can you help if I have to go to In-person only or I can select interview waiver (Drop box).

    Thanks

    Reply
  3. Thank you for the content i loved it. i wish i knew few things before applying for renewal.
    I have applied for renewal of Visa last year and got the appointment date for May 2024. I have VAC date of 10th May and consular appointment date of 22nd May. I need your help with certain questions. I selected Hyderabad as location just because dropbox facility would be available for Bangalore but i am not sure how can i opt for dropbox without have to go to Hyd. I am not sure if i missed the dropbox option when i filled for the renewal. Visa still had 10 days validity when i applied.
    My second question is i have VAC & Consular date 12 days apart is there a way to get that changed to next day? Any help would be appreciated.

    Reply
  4. My previous H1B visa got expired on Feb 13 2020 and i applied for the interview on last year December and based on the questions i am eligible for dropbox. I booked the appointment for Feb 21 2024. I dropped the documents at VAC location and the support person collected my documents. Later i came to know, from Jan 1st this year onwards, the 48 months rule was implemented. In my case i have crossed 48 months + 8 days.

    Currently my visa status shows Application Received

    Whether i can expect in person interview or my case will be considered as dropbox itself.
    Kindly let me know.

    Reply
  5. My wife H4 has visa stamped in passport on 2014 and after never stamped. But have valid I797 till 2026 now. Will she be eligible for Interview waiver ?

    Reply
  6. Kumar,
    I have been filling my DS 160 fills and not eligible for current 48months rule( as it crossed more than 48), but then after answering all questions correctly under interview waiver I’m been directed to Dropbox option only , I am confused how to proceed? Pls suggest

    Reply
    • Hi Avi
      That’s interesting as when I filled in for the same (my case is same visa expired more than 48months) however I always had a valid i797, its directing me to a Counselor Appointment.
      Double check yours one and lets wait for others to respond/share their observations.

      Reply
  7. Hi Kumar,
    I entered US with F1 visa, but then I got my H1b visa and now this month I got my extension too( full time employee and been with same company from 5 years) employer from 7 years( after masters)but still I- 140 is pending, (currently in perm state),
    Am I applicable for Dropbox option or do I need to attend interview as I want to travel to India this May, and also does pending I-140 have any impact on stamping? Appreciate your advice, thanks in advance.

    Reply
  8. Hi
    I have an F1 visa that expires in July 2024 however My H1B was picked last year and thru change of status it’s started in oct 2023. In the new portal the question of having a valid Visa would that be a Ye as F1 has not expired?

    Reply
  9. I am currently in H4 and have stamp expired within 48months window. I got her H1B change of status approved and this is my first stamping H1Bstamping. Am I eligible for Dropbox or does I need to schedule in person interview. Pls advice

    Reply
    • Raj,
      If the previous visa issued is not B visa, you maybe eligible for interview waiver. The system will pick you the correct option based on what you answer. So, go through the process.

      Reply
  10. Hi Kumar,

    I am on H1b visa and my wife and son is on H4 visa. We are planning to go to India in the month of June 2024. I tried to find the wait times for the stamping in Mumbai for H1b and H4 could not find that on TravelGov site. Can you please let me approximately what is the current wait time? Also let me know from where this information can be found.

    Also I believe the dropbox option will be available for three of us. Can you please confirm that as well?
    regards

    Reply
  11. Hi

    I am applying for J1 J2 visa stamping. My visa is expiring in february. But I am not getting dropbox/ interview option page while booking for appointment. After the questionnaire of interview waiver, it directing me to the payment page.
    Is something wrong? What should I do?

    Reply
  12. I had one l1b rejection in 2010 . they asked me to apply for h1 b and I got h1b approved on 2011. My H1b expired on Feb 2018.
    Am I eligible for interview waiver for h1b now

    Reply
      • my H1B visa expired in March 2021. (i am within last 48 Month window)
        But i had L1B visa rejection in 2011. They had asked to apply for L1 Individual or H1B. My that time firm had applied L1 Individual which was subsequently approved.

        Am i eligible for dropbox if i had visa rejection in 2011 but had over come the rejection by getting L1 Individual visa approver later?

        Reply
  13. I had H1B which expired in jul 2021.now I have valid B1/B2 as well. No history of rejection.
    Can I get interview waiver for new L1A blanket?

    Reply
  14. Hi Kumar,
    I had an F1 visa that expired last year. I am trying to get an interview waiver for B2 visa now. Do you think that I would be eligible for a waiver?

    Reply
  15. Me and my Wife are coming to India for Stamping. I am on H1B visa and my wife is on H4 Visa. I am clear that I have interview waiver. My wife had F1 visa which got expired last July and she is on H4 visa. Is she applicable for interview waiver also?

    I am referring
    https://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/en/renew-visa

    Reply
  16. Hi,

    My last visa stamped on the passport is an F1 from 2015. Since then I had filed for a CoS to H4 and have stayed in US until now on H4 extensions. My current H4, although not stamped on passport, is valid until 2026, but I’m planning on visiting India and getting H4 stamped. Am I eligible for Dropbox? Or is ‘visa expired withing 48 months’ only considered for visa stamped on passport?

    Reply
    • Harry,
      They look at the previous stamped visa in passport that expired for 48 month rule, So you may not be eligible. Give the questionnaire a try to be sure.

      Reply
  17. I am planning my first h1 stamping in April 2024. My f1 visa expired in Decemeber 2023. Am I still Eligible for DropBox Facility ?

    Reply
  18. Hi,
    I had a F1 visa and it’s expiry date was 29th June 2021. But I got H1-b approved in October 2020. I am planning to visit in May this year for stamping. The 48 Months would be May 2020. Am I still eligible for a waiver?
    Thank you.

    Reply
  19. Hi,
    I had my previous H1B visa stamped in India and expired in 2015. I booked a H1B drop box appointment for May2024. Am I eligible for Dropbox ?
    What happens for the fees I paid for Dropbox appointments? Should I cancel the appointment?

    Reply
    • Dheepti,
      Well, This is slightly tricky as they added the 48 months from expiry clause. Check with customer service once and then cancel as needed, and run the wizard again to know the eligibility. If you were to run the wizard today, you would not be eligible, so better to check and then take the call.

      Reply
  20. Hi

    I have had a B1 Business Visa refusal in 2019.
    I was later issued an F1 Visa that was approved.
    I want to do my Visa stamping for H1B. Do I qualify for an interview waiver?
    `They have never been refused a US Visa in the past. If there was a refusal, they should have overcome that or got it waived.`
    My refusal was in B1 which was overcome with F1? Am I correct?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Kiran,
      Well, you might be eligible as your most recent visa was approved. They care about most recent visa. You should do the questionnaire to be sure.

      Reply
  21. I had few L1 Blanket rejections in past. My most recent L1B individual was approved. Wondering if i’d be eligible in 2024. There seems to be a newer inclusion of “They have never been refused a US Visa in the past. If there was a refusal, they should have overcome that or got it waived.”. Would my recent most approval would fall under “overcome” verbiage?

    Reply
  22. Hi Kumar, My H1b stamping was done in 2014 and worked in US for 2 years after that returned back to india in Nov-2016. My current employer planning to apply for h1b extension in Jan-2024. As per my understanding i am eligible for drop box in 2023. Could you please confirm am i still eligible for drop box in 2024 as well as my stamping got expired 7 years back ??

    Reply
  23. Can one opt for a interview , even though he/she is eligible for Dropbox?
    My wife is eligible for dropbox, but my son of 18yrs may not be eligible because of the 48month rule.

    For this reason, I would like to opt for an interview for my wife, so that they can go together. Is that allowed? There is no emergency situation here, I just prefer they both go together to make things easier.

    Does anyone know if this is possible?

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
  24. First of thanks for sharing timely updates. Redbus is a great resource! My expired visa stamp was for L1 individual. 221g was handed out which cleared up in 2 weeks back in 2019. Visa was eventually stamped till 2022. Moved to H1 CoS since then. Will I be eligible for Dropbox?

    Reply
  25. In my case, I am eligible for dropbox within 48months rule in the same category B1/B2 visa, but I got the dropbox appointment one week after my 48 months expires (means I applied on 47th month). Does the dropbox center will verify the 48 month rule by checking the old visa page before accepting dropbox documents? Does they count this eligibility rule at the time of application or at the time of stamping?.

    Reply
  26. Hi kumar my brother was on f1 valued upto 20th May 2022 and got h1b COS from 5th March 2022.. He wants to come in May for stamping. I hope he is eligible for dropbox as his F1 expired in May 2022 which is within 48 months rule..But since many are raising lots of doubt, will you please confirm

    Reply
    • Sudha,
      Since his previously issued visa was F1, he should be eligible as long as he meets all other general requirements. The easy test is to do the questionnarie in the USVisaScheduling.com portal, it will tell right away.

      Reply
  27. I have valid B1 visa and booked my H1b dropbox slot in March 2024. Am I still eligible for dropbox? what happens as I aleady payed my fee and booked the slot for dropbox.

    Reply
    • Sri,
      It is not clear at this point. In the previous guidance from last year, they clear had H1B listed with option saying that any previous stamping should do. But, now with the current update, they did not specify any visa type and put in a clause of B1 visa. So, not sure. Please check with the Embassy or USVisaScheduling team once and do update here how it goes.

      Reply
        • Sri,
          Unfortunately, you would not be eligible based on the current new guidance from Jan 2024. Before you cancel your appointment, check with the Consulate, if there are any exceptions and then cancel accordingly.

          Reply
  28. My last H1B visa expired on oct 2023. While scheduling my appointment, the website showed I was eligible for dropbox, so I booked a slot in Jan 2024. Am I still eligible for dropbox?

    Reply
  29. I already booked my dropbox slot for Jan 2024, first time H1b stamping . My h1b expires in 2024 Oct. Am I still eligible? What about the people who already booked dropbox slots for 2024 ?

    Reply

Leave a Comment