H1B Stateside renewal pilot starts January 29, 2024
The US Department of State has announced it will be launching a pilot program for in-country H-1B visa renewals.
Under current rules, H1B visa holders are required to leave the US and apply to renew their status from their home country.
The pilot will trial a new application process, allowing qualifying H1B visa holders to make a renewal application from within the US and enabling DOS to test its own operational and technical capabilities for processing domestic renewals of certain nonimmigrant visa categories.
The move to permit in-country renewals has been designed to help alleviate processing demands on overseas US embassies and consulates, as well simplifying the renewal process for H1B employers and workers.
Who will be eligible for the pilot?
Initially the scheme will be open to up to 20,000 applications made online between January 29, 2024 and April 1, 2024.
According to the Federal Notice detailing the pilot, participation will be limited to applicants who(se):
- Are seeking to renew an H–1B visa; during the pilot phase, the Department will not process any other visa classifications;
- Prior H–1B visa that is being renewed was issued 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;
- Are not subject to a nonimmigrant visa issuance fee (Note: this is commonly referred to as a “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;
- Have an approved and unexpired H–1B petition;
- Were most recently admitted to the United States in H–1B status;
- Are currently maintaining H–1B status in the United States;
- Period of authorized admission in H–1B status has not expired; and
- Intend to reenter the United States in H–1B status after a temporary period abroad.
How will the pilot program work?
DOS has advised it will be releasing the 20,000 slots in stages.
Approximately 2,000 application slots will be made available for applicants whose most recent H-1B visas were issued by Mission Canada and approximately 2,000 application slots for those whose most recent H-1B visas were issued by Mission India (approximately 4,000 total each week) on the following dates:
- January 29, 2024
- February 5, 2024
- February 12, 2024
- February 19, 2024
- February 26, 2024
Applications will be considered in the order that they are received.
How to make an application under the pilot program
Applicants will be required to complete an online eligibility form for the program, and if successful, can then file their DS-160 online and pay the MRV fee.
Instructions will then be provided to the applicant in relation to submitting passports and any other relevant supporting documents.
How long will applications take to process under the pilot?
Application processing is expected to take between six to eight weeks from when DOS receives the applicant’s passport and other required documents.
DOS will not consider requests for expedited processing under the scheme.
DOS aims to have completed processing of all applications made under the pilot scheme by May 1, 2024.
NNU’s specialist US immigration attorneys provide expert assistance on all aspects of the H-1B visa, including the registration, petitions and renewals.
If you have a question about the H1B visa, or any other US immigration-related matter, please contact us for advice.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.