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 categories.
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 exemption.”