The much-anticipated stateside renewal pilot program is set to run from January 29 to April 1, 2024. Under the pilot, certain H-1B visa holders will be able to renew their visas within the United States, without having to leave the country for visa stamping.
The program is limited to a total of 20,000 visa applications. 4,000 application slots will be opened up by the State Department every week, from January 29 through Feb 26.
While the pilot is currently applicable to H-1B employees only, there is a possibility of it being expanded in the near future to other non-immigrant visa categories like the L-1.
To qualify under the pilot for domestic visa renewal, the H-1B worker, who has an approved and unexpired H-1B petition and is seeking to renew their visa stamp must:
- Have been issued the visa by Mission Canada with an issuance date from January 1, 2020, through April 1, 2023; or by Mission India with an issuance date of February 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021;
- Not be subject to a nonimmigrant visa issuance fee (“reciprocity fee”);
- Be eligible for an in-person interview waiver;
- Have been fingerprinted in the past in connection with a prior visa;
- Not have a prior visa that includes a “clearance received” annotation;
- Not have a visa ineligibility that would require a waiver prior to visa issuance;
- Be currently maintaining H-1B status in the United States;
- Have a period of authorized admission in H-1B status that has not expired; and
- Intend to re-enter the US in H-1B status after a temporary period abroad.
Eligible applicants will be able to apply for renewal through the State Department’s dedicated domestic visa renewal website by submitting the DS-160 and paying the requisite fee, after which applications will then be sorted to determine whether they fall within the scope of the pilot.
D&A will closely follow this development and provide updates as and when they become available.
This article has been written by Zeenat Phophalia, Esq. Of Counsel, Davies & Associates, India Office.
Zeenat Phophalia is qualified to practice law in New York, United Kingdom and India. She practices in the area of U.S. immigration law with a focus on business immigration, and has represented corporate clients including large and medium sized companies and startups across sectors such as IT, consulting, consumer goods, manufacturing and telecommunications.