My mother-in-law has visited us in the USA twice before from the PRC. I've heard that it's easier to arrange a visit again. Is there a way to arrange for a visit where she won't have to go through an interview (which itself would require her to travel) or me to generate reams of paperwork including bank statements and whatnot?

I'm a 3rd (or more) generation US citizen. My wife has recently become a naturalized citizen. Since her last visit, Mother-in-law has been widowed, so she would be traveling alone. She's also quite elderly.

What paperwork do I need to look for? Any recent advice from someone in the same situation?

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It is possible (mandatory even) for individuals who meet several conditions to apply without the interview, though you'll still need to put all the usual paperwork together for the application. If she meets the conditions, she can drop off the documents at a bank branch and receive a visa without having to appear for an interview. Otherwise, the interview is, unfortunately, required.

The good news is that, thanks to an agreement a few years ago between the US and China, I understand there's a good chance she'll be issued a 10-year multiple entry visa now. This will give her a visa that she can use for multiple trips within a 10-year period without needing to reapply.

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