Good news for Nigerian students: it was recently announced that no-interview US visa renewals will be granted for eligible learners to continue their studies. This is limited to students who are already pursuing their education at a university in the US and will be physically present in Nigeria over the summer.
“If you are currently studying in the US, you may be eligible to renew your student visa without an interview when you return to Nigeria this summer,” said the embassy on its website.
The website adds that this will only qualify for student visas that are still valid or have expired within the past 24 months. No-interview US visa renewals will only be valid for students who seek to: continue their studies in the same major even if at a different institution; or continue or change their course of studies at their current institution.
Students will need the following documents:
- A completed DS-160 form
- An approved I-20
- A receipt for the I-901 SEVIS fee
- A GTBank (MRV) receipt for the visa fee
- A valid passport with the expired student visa — if the passport is expired, a current valid passport should be included
- A passport photograph
Nigerian students in Lagos are required to make an interview waiver appointment here and must come in person to the US Consulate on the date and time of their appointment with their documents. However, those in Abuja will need to submit a printed copy of an online application — which can be found on the same website — as well as their other documents to a designated DHL facility.
If a student does not meet the above criteria in any way, they must schedule a regular appointment. The same applies to dependents, family members, or others in their group. Further instructions can be found here.
This follows the No-Interview Visa Renewals process, a pilot project launched at the US Consular section in Lagos in February this year. The programme was said to be targeted at students and tourists, as well as some work visas that are processed in Nigeria.
“We know that it’s still extremely difficult to get a visa appointment, either at the Consular section here in Lagos or the Consular section in Abuja,” US Mission Consular Coordinator Susan Tuller said previously.
“The intent of the new programme is to allow us to increase our services for people seeking to travel to the US for tourism or some types of work or to study while still being able to provide the services that we have to provide to Americans living in Nigeria, like renewing passports and obtaining birth certificates for their children and the services that we need to provide to Nigerians who want to immigrate to the United States to reunite with family.”
The US visa backlog
Following the pandemic, the US was forced to close their embassies in a number of countries — which subsequently disrupted its visa services. As such, the current policy undertaken in Nigeria is designed to address the large visa backlog created by COVID-19.
However, the visa backlog was set in motion long before the pandemic. Since 2017, the Trump administration had been making efforts to stall or ban the flow of immigrants into the US under the guise of protecting American jobs.
The Biden administration has since worked to reverse such immigration restrictions. Still, the ban, combined with pandemic-induced staffing shortages and logistical challenges at US consulates around the world, has created a backlog that has left many waiting applicants in limbo.
Other countries with no-interview US visa renewals
US Embassies in a select few countries have opted to follow a similar route. Currently, students from the following countries may be eligible for a US visa renewal without arranging for an interview:
Students should note that this is a non-exhaustive list, and that interview waivers are not guaranteed for all cases of US visa renewals.