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  • Writer's pictureB&G

(UPDATED) H-1B Visa Domestic Renewal Pilot Program to Begin in January 2024

Updated: Jan 15

Visa stamps are generally required as part of the U.S. immigration process. As of the writing of this post, all visa stamps are required to be applied for and obtained at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. However, as part of the federal government’s efforts to minimize immigration processing wait times, the State Department has announced that a limited number of H-1B specialty occupation visa holders will be able to renew their H-1B visa stamps within the United States as early as January 2024. This pilot program will initially allow 20,000 participants to mail their passports to the State Department for renewal, rather than exit the U.S. and apply for a U.S. visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. In a related effort to minimize visa appointment wait times, the Trump Administration temporarily authorized U.S. Consulates to waive interviews for certain visa categories.  The Biden Administration has extended this temporary authorization multiple times, but it is currently set to expire in December 2023.  While visa appointment wait times are significantly down from the height of the pandemic, they are still well above the State Department’s goal wait time of sixty (60) days. Indeed, H-1B visa appointment wait times are particularly high in countries such as India, which is the largest source of H-1B visa holders.


At B&G, we believe the domestic visa pilot and interview waiver programs are promising steps forward to reducing visa appointment wait times and cumbersome international travel.  As of the writing of this post on December 1, 2023, it is still unclear how the initial 20,000 participants will be selected.  B&G is looking forward to updating this post with further details once they are released.


If you have any questions about the H-1B Visa Domestic Renewal Pilot Program or any other U.S. immigration matters, please do not hesitate to contact Blaker & Granet LLP.


UPDATE


The U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) has outlined some details for the H-1B Stateside Visa Renewal Pilot Program. Notable information includes, but is not limited to:


  • The program will start on January 29, 2024 and end on April 1, 2024

  • The program is only available to H-1B visa holders who are seeking to renew a prior H-1B visa that was issued in:

  • Canada (with an issuance date from January 1, 2020, through April 1, 2023); or 

  • India (with an issuance date from February 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021)

  • Each week, DOS will release approximately 2,000 application slots (Canada) and approximately 2,000 application slots (India)

  • Applications will be available HERE

  • Applicants will be required to provide documents such as a DS-160 Confirmation Page, passport-style photo, valid passport, Form I-797 Approval Notice, and current I-94 information

  • If approved, each applicant’s documents will be returned via USPS or a courier service. 

  • As a reminder: visa issuance is not a grant of nonimmigrant status and does not constitute an extension of nonimmigrant status or an admission to the United States. Rather, the visa stamp only permits an applicant to seek admission at a U.S. port of entry after international travel. 

This is just a sampling of information available regarding the new H-1B Visa Domestic Renewal Pilot Program. If you have any questions about the Program or any other U.S. immigration matters, please do not hesitate to contact Blaker & Granet LLP.



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