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Visas – Plan ahead Apply Now
June 30, 2023

Plan ahead Apply Now

Due to resource constraints the U.S. Consulate will be unable to conduct interviews for immigrant and non-immigrant visas in July and August. The interview waiver program will remain operational but may experience delays.

“We are anticipating a huge number of U.S. visitors coming to New Zealand for the FIFA World Cup. Whenever there is a large volume of international visitors, the unfortunate and inevitable reality is that a portion of those travellers end up needing consular assistance. While our consular officers are attending to those urgent requests we won’t be able to conduct interviews and it will slow down visa processing,” says Consul General Sarah Nelson.

“The good news is that most Kiwi citizens do not need a visa to travel to the US—most can travel on the Visa Waiver Program. They just need an ESTA. And lots of other New Zealand based applicants can apply for a visa without needing an interview. So I urge all travellers to check the requirements really, really carefully. If you do require a visa, please don’t get caught out—apply early,” she adds.

“The current wait time for an interview is five to six weeks and we anticipate that will spike sharply as we approach the World Cup. Please, please carefully check if you need a visa and, if you do, we urge you to apply now.”

You may have heard the news from “Visa Info Mouth on Instagram“, but it’s best to have some FAQs answered below by the pros, Katie and Tricia from the Consulate!

A pause to visa interviews between July and August 2023

I heard the Consulate isn’t holding visa interviews between July and August 2023? Is that true? Between between July and August 2023, our visa interview appointments will indeed be temporarily paused. Our primary mission is the safety and protection of U.S. citizens and we expect a large number of U.S. citizens to attend the FIFA Women’s World Cup this winter. While we’re focused on those urgent requests, we won’t be able to conduct visa interviews. American citizen services will remain open as usual.

Visas: https://nz.usembassy.gov/visas/

What is the (Visa) interview waiver program?


What is the (Visa) interview waiver program? The (Visa) interview waiver program allows some applicants who live in New Zealand to apply for some types of visas without an interview. You don’t have to do anything special to apply for the interview waiver program. When you go to make an appointment, the scheduling system will ask you a series of questions to determine if you’re eligible or not. If you are, it will provide you with the instructions for submitting your application through the program. If not, it will let you schedule an appointment. In general, children under 14, applicants over 80, and anyone renewing a visa that expired less than 48 months ago qualify for the interview waiver program. If you’re a New Zealand citizen or citizen of another Visa Waiver Program country who has ever traveled the U.S. on ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)) or another visa, you can also use the interview waiver program to apply for F, H1B, H4, O, P, L, M and some J visas. Citizens of New Zealand and other ESTA-eligible countries who are applying for H2A visas don’t have to have prior travel to the U.S.

Visa Waiver Program/ESTA Application page: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/ 

Visas: https://nz.usembassy.gov/visas/

Can I get an ESTA when visas are not being issued?

Can I get an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) when the Consulate isn’t doing visas?  Yes!  ESTA – which gives you electronic travel authorization to travel to the USA without a visa – is actually run out of DC – not the Consulate – by Customs and Border Protection, and is not affected by local events. Make sure you review the eligibility requirements carefully before applying (add website link in video here). Applicants with criminal records or travel to certain countries aren’t eligible to use ESTA and will need to get a visa from the Consulate. If your ESTA application is denied, you won’t be eligible for the interview waiver program in the future.

Visas: https://nz.usembassy.gov/visas/

More FAQs:

Can students use the interview waiver program?

Some can – New Zealand citizens and citizens of other Visa Waiver Program countries who have traveled to the U.S. before can apply for F or M student visas through the interview waiver program. If you are a citizen of another country and are renewing your F, M, or J student visa, you can also use the program as long as your visa expired less than 48 months ago.

Can exchange visitors use the interview waiver program?

Some can – J visa applicants going to academic programs who are also citizens of New Zealand or of other Visa Waiver Program countries can use the interview waiver program as long as they’ve travelled to the U.S. before on ESTA or another visa. Camp counselors, interns, trainees, and citizens of other countries can’t use the interview waiver program unless their renewing a J visa that expired less than 48 months ago.

Who can’t use the interview waiver program?

If you don’t live in New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Niue, or Independent Samoa, you can’t use the interview waiver program at the Consulate in Auckland. Check with the Embassy or Consulate nearest you to see if you qualify for their interview waiver program. Other reasons applicants have to come talk to a consular officer include: your last visa was lost or stolen, your ESTA application was denied, or you have a criminal record. There are other reasons why we might need to see you in person. If the consular officer reviewing your interview waiver application determines an interview is needed, we will let you know as soon as possible.

I’m a student and just tried to make an appointment. The earliest appointment date is months after my program starts. What do I do?

We encourage applicants to plan ahead and apply early, but know that some students have to wait for their programs to issue the right paperwork. First, make sure you’re not eligible for the interview waiver program. If you’re sure you need an interview, go ahead and book that appointment several months out. Booking that appointment will activate the function that allows you to request an expedited appointment. We’ll do everything we can to get you in to an interview before your program starts.

Visas: https://nz.usembassy.gov/visas/