H-1B Visa In-Country Renewal Pilot
H-1B visa holders will be permited to apply to renew their status while in the USA, under a new pilot due to launch in 2024.
Details of the scheme were announced by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) in a Federal Register notice titled, “Pilot Program to Resume Renewal of H-1B Nonimmigrant Visas in the United States for Certain Qualified Noncitizens”.
The trial scheme will allow the DOS to issue a visa stamp on a passport without the visa holder having to renew their visas at a US consulate outside the United States.
Under current rules, visa holders are required to leave the USA and attend an interview at a US Consular or Embassy station overseas in order to renew their US nonimmigrant visas. This also applies to workers with interview waivers, who must still travel overseas to make their renewal application.
It is hoped the change in procedure will help alleviate appointment backlogs for visa renewal interviews at American consulates overseas by reducing the caseload of foreign consular posts. It should also make the visa renewal process significantly easier, faster and less costly for visa holders.
The pilot is expected to start in early 2024 and be restricted to holders of H-1B primary visas only (i.e., no dependent H4 visa holders), for up to 20,000 applicants. It will be voluntary and be restricted to citizens of nations exempt from reciprocity costs, such as India. The eligibility requirements are to be similar to those of the current interview waiver program.
According to the DOS, this H-1B stateside visa renewal procedure is being introduced as a small trial project to ensure the program’s viability. The DOS has stated that it would like to extend the program’s eligibility to additional visa categories and persons in the event that the pilot program is a success.
NNU Immigration are US immigration specialists with recognized expertise in US work visa applications on behalf of employers and workers. For advice on how any changes to the H-1B program could impact your organization, contact us.