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Qantasflyer May 23rd 2022 5:48 am

J1 visa - interview waiver
I am heading over to the US in Jan to study an exchange term of my uni degree in the US. My host university in the US will sponsor me for a J1 visa.

There appears to be a wait time of over 4 months for a visa interview at the US Consulate in Sydney. I am pre-empting that the host university will likely not issue my DS-2019 paperwork in time.

Thus I'm trying to work out if I qualify for the interview waiver that has been extended until 31 Dec 2022 for J1 visas. Reading this page, and the linked announcement on the State Department's website, it seems to suggest that as a new J1 visa applicant who's travelled to the US on the ESTA and has had no previous ESTA denials on my Australian passport, I qualify for the Apply by Mail program even if I am a first time J1 visa applicant rather than renewing the same visa type - can anyone confirm my understanding?

The rest of the page goes on to talk about renewing a J1 if applying by mail , which is normally the requirement for an interview waiver, so just wanted to clarify my understanding of the temporary waiver and whether it applies to first time applications for J1.

Also, apparently the State Department would need all 10 of my fingerprints on file - would they have collected this on my last entry via an ESTA? I can't quite recall as this was back in 2018 - entered at Newark. Have also visited with a B1/B2 via my previous nationality when I'm 99% sure they have collected my fingerprints when I applied for the visa - it was issued in 2009.

The US visa hotline isn't too helpful and keeps re-directing me to the very same website for details...

Thanks for any insight.

postbox134 May 23rd 2022 12:12 pm

Re: J1 visa - interview waiver
It depends on the local consulate rules AFAIK. You're probably best checking with them directly.

It sounds like you do qualify if you have flown on an ESTA in that time they would have taken fingerprints (I have both 2017 and 2018 on a B1 and then an ESTA they took the fingerprints at JFK).

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