In 2012, the U.S. Department of State started to exempt some individuals seeking a renewal of their visa stamps from the in-person interview required during the DS-160 visa application process. While still requiring applicants to drop-off their visa application materials with the Applicant Support Center (ASC), some Mexican citizens were allowed to renew their TN visa stamps under this program without being subject to an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Although initial rules in 22 CFR 41.102 purported to state the requirements for this interview waiver program, who exactly qualified for the program was not entirely clear. Information on the program requirements provided in various Embassy and Consulate websites did not always fully explain eligibility for the program especially for TN visa applicants.
With a new rule effective Nov. 10, 2015, the Department of State has attempted to clarify the instances where it will allow an individual to avoid the in-person interview normally required during the DS-160 application process. With respect to Mexican citizens seeking to renew their TN visa stamps, the following individuals may be eligible for a waiver of their in-person interview when:
- They are applying for the new visa within 12 months of the expiration of their old visa.
- They are seeking the re-issuance of another TN visa stamp.
- They are applying at the consular post located in their usual residence.
- There is no indication of visa ineligibility or of noncompliance with U.S. immigration laws.
There are 3 cases where the interview will not be waived:
- When individuals are applying at consular posts located in countries where they are not nationals or residents.
- For individuals who were previously refused a visa (unless the refusal was overcome or a waiver of inadmissibility was obtained) or who are subject to more heightened security reviews.
- For individuals from countries designated as sponsors of terrorism.
The DOS’ amended 22 CFR 41.102 rule is available here.