The Department of state has launched a pilot program to resume visa renewals for qualified H-1B non-immigrant visa applicants within the U.S. nearly after two decades.
The program has started from January 29, 2024, through April 1, 2024, or when all application slots are filled, whichever comes first. Under this program the department will make a maximum of 20,000 application slots available for approximately 4,000 per week for applicants whose most recent H-1B visa was issued by U.S. Mission India with an issuance date of February 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021, and for applicants whose most recent H-1B was issued by U.S. Mission Canada with an issuance date of January 1, 2020, through April 1, 2023.
This move will help to reduce the workload on officers at the U.S. consulate abroad and also the H1-B beneficiary could continue stay within the country while the visa is being processed. This move will surely a good start, if and when the program becomes permanent it would be a smooth renewal process.
Who are eligible for renewal within the country?
Applicants who fulfil the below criteria shall be eligible for renewal within the country
· Seek to renew an H-1B nonimmigrant visa only;
· Prior H-1B visa that is being renewed was issued by U.S. Mission India or by U.S. Mission Canada;
· Are not subject to a non-immigrant visa issuance fee also known as commonly “reciprocity fee”;
· Are eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview requirement;
· Have submitted ten fingerprints to the Department in connection with a previous visa application;
· Prior visa does not include a “clearance received” annotation;
· Do not have a visa ineligibility that would require a waiver prior to visa issuance;
· Were most recently admitted to the United States in H-1B status;
· Are currently maintaining H-1B status in the United States;
· Have an approved and unexpired H-1B petition;
· Period of authorized admission in H-1B status has not expired; and
· Intend to re-enter the United States in H-1B status after a temporary period abroad.
If the above criteria’s are met then the applicants must submit following list of documents and fees to renew the visa within the U.S.
· A DS-160 barcode sheet for a properly completed and electronically filed form DS-160, Online Non-immigrant Visa Application
· A passport valid for travel to the United States, which is valid for at least six months beyond the visa application date, and contains at least two blank, unmarked pages for placement of a visa foil. RECOMMENDED: A passport containing the most recently issued H-1B visa if the visa is not in the current passport
· Non-refundable and non-transferable $205.00 MRV application processing fee
· One photograph not older than six months
· Copy of current Form I-797, Notice of Action
· Copy of Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record
The department is processing only H-1B Visa and not H-4 visas under the program. However, if the program becomes permanent then maybe more non-immigrant visa category shall be added such as L-1 visas, E-2 Visa, etc.
This article has been written by Sukanya Raman, Davies & Associates, India Office.
Sukanya is an Independent Consultant working the capacity of Associate of the firm’s Bengaluru office. She earned her first undergraduate degree in Commerce from Mumbai University in 2013 and her second undergraduate degree in Law from Indian Law Society’s Law College, Pune at Savitribai Phule Pune University in 2017.