• Monday, June 24, 2024
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US Consulate explains new visa programme, says not drop box

US Consulate explains new visa programme, says not drop box

The U.S. Mission on Tuesday officially launched a new visa renewal programme known as ‘no interview visa renewals’ explaining that it is not a dropbox or interview waiver, as widely believed.

“Today, we are talking about the no interview visa renewal system. So it is not a dropbox, it is a no interview visa renewals procedure,” Susan Tuller, U.S Mission country Consular coordinator, said at a press conference announcing the new visa programme.

The dropbox or interview waiver was suspended in 2019 because it was fraudulent and did not meet the US embassy visa policy objective.

One of such visa policy/programme objectives is protecting US border security, which is its highest priority, helping the U.S. facilitate legitimate travel to the United States, she said.

“So when it comes to interviewing waiver programmes, one of the things we found with the programme we had that was suspended in 2019 was that it did not help with either of those things. We found that there was a lot of fraud in the applications that were coming in through our interview waiver process,” Tuller said.

Furthermore, she said, “We also found that it did not help with our overall productivity or efficiency or customer service, because surprisingly, we found that Consular Officers were having to call over 50 percent of the people who applied through that programme in for interviews anyway, even though they had already met certain eligibility criteria that would allow them not to have an interview.”

“So when we are talking about the new programme that we’re instituting, there are some similarities and there are also some differences,” she said.

She said the new application procedure will begin in February at the US Consulate in Lagos and will be extended shortly thereafter to the US Embassy in Abuja.

The number of qualified applicants who can apply using the new procedure will be limited initially, she said.

Tuller noted that processing times for the program are expected to be up to two months and applicants would not be able to retrieve their passport during that time.

Each applicant must individually meet the criteria; minors can apply without an interview only if they meet the eligibility criteria on their own.

Read also: US mission lists criteria for drop box visa applications

Applicants must meet the following criteria: “Your previous visa was issued in Nigeria; Your previous visa is in the same classification as your current application; Your previous visa was a full validity, multiple entry visa; Your previous visa expired within the last 24 months or will expire in the next 3 months from the date of application; You have all your passports covering the entire period since receiving the previous visa and the passport with the most recent visa; You have never been arrested or convicted of any crime or offense in the United States, even if you later received a waiver or pardon; and You have never worked without authorization or remained beyond your permitted time in the United States”.

Those eligible for a Visa renewal without an interview include applicants for B1/B2, F, M, J (academic only), H, L, or CI/D (combined only) Visa.

For a life-or-death emergency, she said such applicants may request an expedited, in-person interview, however, to accommodate No-Interview Visa Renewals, appointments will be very limited.

“Business travel, conferences, weddings, and graduations are not considered emergencies. If you have an emergency and need to travel immediately, please follow the guidance provided at https://www.ustraveldocs.com/ng or +234-1-227-8955 to request an emergency appointment”.

She warned that third parties unaffiliated with U.S. Embassy Abuja and Consulate General Lagos may seek to take advantage of various visa services to target visa applicants with fraudulent offers or claims.

“Applicants should fill out their forms and make their appointments themselves via the official websites. As future opportunities for interview waiver appointments become available, they will be communicated via our website,” Tuller said.