United States Citizenship & Immigration Services Information

H-1B Workers Won’t have to go out of the United States to get a visa anymore!

Domestic Visa Renewal Pilot Program, starting Jan 2024.

A limited number of H-1B specialty occupation workers will be able to renew their visas in the US. The rollout of the H-1B domestic visa renewal pilot will be limited to just 20,000 participants at first. This would allow those H-1B holders to renew their visas by mailing them to the State Department rather than travel outside the US and face uncertain wait times to secure an appointment at a US consular office before returning.


Q1: What is the new H-1B visa renewal program? 

A1: The new program allows a limited number of H-1B visa holders to renew their visas without leaving the United States. This pilot program is set to start in January and will initially include 20,000 participants.

Q2: Why is this program being introduced? 

A2: This program is part of the State Department’s efforts to reduce wait times for U.S. travel and streamline the visa process. It aims to make visa renewals more efficient for H-1B holders who currently have to leave the U.S. to renew their visas.

Q3: What are H-1B visas?

A3: H-1B visas are issued to foreign workers in specialty occupations that require technical or theoretical expertise, typically in fields like IT, finance, engineering, and science.

Q4: Will the program expand beyond 20,000 participants? 

A4: The program might expand after the initial phase, depending on its success. It’s a pilot, so it’s starting small to ensure it works effectively before being offered more broadly.

Q5: Will this program include interview waivers? 

A5: Yes, the State Department is also working on extending interview waivers for certain temporary visas and introducing a digital visa system. This is to further reduce visa processing times and improve efficiency.

Q6: How will participants be selected for the pilot program? 

A6: The exact method for selecting participants is still being finalized. Details are expected to be published in a Federal Register notice.

Q7: What are the benefits of this program? 

A7: The program benefits H-1B visa holders by simplifying the renewal process, potentially saving them time and the expense of international travel. It also helps reduce backlogs and wait times at U.S. consular offices.

Q8: Are there still high wait times for visas in some countries?

A8: Yes, despite recent improvements, some countries still face long wait times for visa appointments. This program and other measures aim to address these delays.

Q9: When will more information about the program be available? 

A9: More information, including details about the selection process and pilot program guidelines, is expected to be released in a Federal Register notice next month.

Q10: How does this affect American businesses? 

A10: By streamlining the visa renewal process for H-1B holders, American businesses that rely on foreign skilled workers will face fewer disruptions and can maintain a more stable workforce.

Source: Bloomberg news, available at https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labor-report/domestic-visa-renewal-pilot-for-h-1b-workers-to-start-in-january


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