The State Department has suspended the Visa Interview Waiver Program, which allows certain repeat visa applicants to forego in-person interviews.

The move was part of a broader set of actions included in President Donald Trump's Jan 27th executive order.

The Department of Homeland Security said that the order included the immediate suspension of the program, which allows frequent visitors to the U.S. to bypass in-person interviews with a U.S. consular officer when they need to renew a travel visa. The length of visas varies, depending on the individual and their country.

The program launched in 2012 on the heels of President Obama's strategy to increase inbound travel and tourism. Piloted in China, it applied to people who were renewing visas within 48 months of the expiration of their previous visa, and within the same classification. It was made permanent in 2014.

Consular officers at the time said that the program would save applicants both time and money and allow them to travel to the United States more frequently, and would also free up consular resources to focus more on first-time applicants.

The Visa Interview Waiver Program is separate from the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of 38 partner countries to apply to enter the U.S. without a visa for visits of up to 90 days.

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