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U.S. Immigration

United States Immigration column and commentaries

DEC 2006: Proposed Visa Screen Blanket Denial is Unfair

NOV 2006: Hardship waiver of the two year J-1 Residency

APR 2006: Compromise Bill Emerges Despite Senate Bickering

MAR 2006: Immigration Reform: Looking beyond border patrols for answers

MAR 2003: Immigrant Visa Processing of Foreign Nurses

JAN 2003: Asylum and the Child Status Protection Act

DEC 2002: Recalculating Age for purposes of relief

NOV 2002: New relief for "Age-Out" cases

FEB 2002: Update: Child Citizenship Act of 2001

JAN 2002: Tips: Ppreparing your "B" visitor extension requests

DEC 2001: The U.S. economic downturn: How the non-immigant can weather the storm

NOV 2001: Possible immigration consequences of the events of Sep. 11, 2001

APR 2000: Business immigration

MAR 2000: Employment-based adjustment applicants

FEB 2000: INS clarifies status of H1B woker while on leave

JAN 2000: Immediate opening for nurses

DEC 1999: Practical tips in dealing with the US consulate in Manila

NOV 1999: INS Processing delays and how to live with them

OCT 1999: How to maximize your changes of obtaining a B2 tourist visa

SEP 1999: In the aftermath of  245(i) who benefits?

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Personal Interview Now Required for New Visa Applicants

By Reuben S. Seguritan

The Department of State has recently released the final rule that will guide US consular offices on when personal appearance for interview will be required in nonimmigrant visa (NIV) applications.

NIVs allow entry of an alien for a temporary period and for a specific purpose. The most common NIVs are the visitors’ visa for business or pleasure (B1/ B2), student (F, M or J) and working visas (H or L).

The final rule reflects the recent amendments introduced by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) mandating clearer guidelines for requiring personal interview to NIV applicants.


Prior to the 2004 law, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) basically left the issue of waiving NIV personal interviews to be determined by State Department regulations.

Generally, the amendments are already reflected in current State Department regulations. The most noteworthy amendment, however, is the limitation imposed on the consular officer’s discretion to require NIV applicants to appear for a personal interview.

Under the new rule, consular officers must now conduct personal interviews of all NIV applicants between 14 and 79 years old, the same age range covered by the biometrics collection requirement. Under the old rule, interviews were required for persons between 16 and 60 only.



Personal interview may no longer be waived for the following: (1) those applicants who are not citizens or residents of the country where they are applying; (2) those who have been previously denied a visa application; (3) those where their NIV ineligibility was not overcome; and (4) those from countries designated by the State Department as state sponsors of terrorism.

Among the limited exceptions to the in-person interview rules involve cases where the visa was temporarily denied but the denial was subsequently overcome; or where the inadmissibility was waived; or where NIV applicant is eligible for an interview waiver.

As for the NIV applications of foreign diplomats and officials, the personal interview requirement is considered “as advisory,” according to the AILA report, so as not to impose on the “President’s constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations.” The final rules, therefore, do not require the personal interview under the A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, NATO-5 and NATO-6 categories, among other diplomatic or official visas.

The wider coverage of the in-person interview requirement is expected to congest busy consulates like the US Embassy in Manila. It would be advisable for NIV applicants to schedule an appointment early to minimize or avert visa processing delay.


Editor’s Note: REUBEN S. SEGURITAN has been practicing law for over 30 years. He was former immigration editor and is author of a book on immigrant experiences. He frequently speaks on immigrant issues and for his advocacy efforts he was the recipient of two presidential awards by President Ramos and an award by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas. He previously taught business law and international politics. For further information, you may call him at 212 695 5281 or log on to his website at


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