Arab News, Saturday, Feb 04, 2023 | Rajab 13, 1444
US Mission expands interview waiver program for Saudis on tourist visa
Saudi Arabia: The US diplomatic
missions in Saudi Arabia have announced an expansion of the waiver program for
Saudi nationals from attending personal interviews to obtain US tourist visas.
“Good news for Saudi citizens: We are pleased to announce the expansion of the
Tourist Visa Renewal Interview Waiver Program to include certain applicants who
are 40 years of age or older or 17 years of age or younger,” tweeted the US
Embassy in Riyadh.
Sharing more information on exemption eligibility, it said the US Mission to
Saudi Arabia has resumed immigrant visa and nonimmigrant visa processing for all
Travelers can schedule appointments for the range of visa categories on-line.
“While the Embassy and Consulates General aim to process cases as soon as
practicable, backlogs developed during the COVID pandemic and limited capacity
due to COVID-19 mitigation measures will result in longer wait times for
appointments. If you have an urgent matter and need to travel immediately,
please follow the guidance provided at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/sa to request
an emergency appointment,” said a statement on the US Embassy website.
“We understand that many nonimmigrant visa applicants paid a visa application
fee (known as the MRV fee) and are still waiting to schedule a visa interview.
The US Mission will extend the validity of this MRV fee until Sept. 30, 2023, to
allow all applicants who were unable to schedule an appointment as a result of
the suspension of routine visa services an opportunity to schedule an
appointment with the already paid fee,” it added.
The consular sections of the US Embassy in Riyadh and the consulate generals in
Jeddah and Dhahran are responsible for providing visa services to those seeking
to enter the US for a temporary period and for those wishing to take up
indefinite or permanent residence in the US.
The US missions last January exempted Saudi nationals aged 50 and above from
attending personal interviews to obtain tourist visas, saying: “The US Embassy
and Consulate General are happy to announce that interview waivers are now
available for Saudi citizens at least 50 years old renewing a tourist visa.
“The new interview waiver program will ease the visa process for thousands of
Saudi citizens who qualify as well as free up visa appointments for many others
at a time when international travel is beginning to return to normal levels,” it
said, adding: “It is a sign of the importance and strength of the ties between
the US and Saudi Arabia.”
Welcoming the announcement, Dr. Osama Ghanem Al-Obaidy, a professor of law at
the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh, told Arab News: “This waiver
expansion announced by the US Embassy will further promote Saudi-US relations
and make it easier to get a US tourist visa for those qualifying for such an