New Temporary Rule: Waiver of Personal Appearance and In-Person Oath Requirement for Certain Immigrant Visa Applicants Due to COVID-19
Breaking news! The Department of State has published a final rule in the Federal Register announcing a new temporary final rule that grants consular officers flexibility to waive the personal appearance of certain “replacement” immigrant visa applicants who were approved for an immigrant visa in the same classification and on the same basis as the current application on or after August 4, 2019.
Under this new policy, consular officers will have the discretion to allow this subset of immigrant visa applicants to affirm the accuracy of the contents of their DS-260 application without appearing for an in-person interview before a consular officer. The temporary final rule is effective immediately and will expire after 24 months on December 13, 2023.
Who does the new temporary rule apply to?
This temporary final rule for a discretionary waiver of personal appearance and interview applies to immigrant visa applicants who were issued a U.S. immigrant visa on or after August 4, 2019, and meet the following additional criteria:
- the applicant must be seeking an immigrant visa in the same classification (or another classification as the result of automatic conversion due to the death or naturalization of the petitioner of the previously issued immigrant visa)
- the applicant seeks and remains qualified for an immigrant visa pursuant to the same approved petition as their previously approved application, and
- they must continue to qualify for the immigrant visa sought.
Under this temporary final rule, the personal appearance and interview of certain applicants for an immigrant visa may be waived in the discretion of the consular officer, provided that the applicant is willing to affirm under penalty of perjury to the information provided on their Online Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application, known as Form DS-260.
The consular officer may decide to either (1) communicate with the applicant by telephone or email, (2) request that the applicant provide additional information that the consular officer deems necessary, or (3) may request the applicant to appear in person.
Should an applicant desire to make change to their responses to Form DS-260, the consular officer or other authorized consular staff can reopen the DS-260 to allow the applicant to make changes to that form and re-sign it under penalty of perjury.
Who is this new policy designed to help?
The new temporary final rule was issued to help those immigrant visa applicants who have been unable to travel to the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic and who are under time-constraints to re-enter the country. The rule has been made temporary until 2023, and will be discontinued once the pandemic becomes less acute and ordinary travel resumes.
How can I request a discretionary waiver?
The State Department recommends applicants meeting the above criteria to contact the consular section that issued their prior immigrant visa and inquire about their eligibility for this provision. Applicants should be aware that they may be required to submit new DS-260 applications, provide any required updated documents, submit medical exams, and pay the application processing fees. In addition, certain applicants who meet the above criteria may still be required to appear in-person before a consular officer. Waivers are by no means guaranteed and are subject to approval at the discretion of a consular officer.
Questions? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.
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