Domestic Renewal of H-1B Nonimmigrant Visas for Certain Applicants
On Monday, January 29 the U.S. Department of State (DOS) will launch a pilot program for qualified H-1B principal visa applicants only (no H-4 dependents or any other visa holders) who meet certain requirements, to renew their visa stamps (travel documents) from within the United States.
The site Domestic Renewal of H-1B Nonimmigrant Visas for Certain Applicants (state.gov) provides an easy-to-use tool to determine if an applicant is eligible to participate in this program. It also includes detailed FAQs.
In advance of the January 29, 2024, 12:00 pm (ET) launch for the stateside visa renewal pilot program available to certain H-1B principals, the Department of State CEAC system is allowing participants to pre-load their DS-160 applications. Those intending to do so should go to https://ceac.state.gov/GenNIV/Default.aspx and select “U.S. – Domestic” from the dropdown box. From here, an additional box will pop up with the following information before moving on to the online DS-160 application:
This post is ONLY to be used by individuals participating in the domestic visa renewal pilot program. If you are not participating in the pilot, you MUST select another post. If you are uncertain whether you qualify for participation in the domestic visa renewal pilot, please visit https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/employment/domestic-renewal.html.
The pilot program will run from January 29, 2024 through April 1, 2024. DOS will issue a total of 20,000 visas, with 4,000 slots opening each week for the first 5 weeks of the pilot, on January 29, February 5, February 12, February 19, and February 26. The average processing time is expected to be about 6-8 weeks. There will be no ability to expedite processing.
Depending on the success of the program, DOS may consider expanding the program. Participation is voluntary.
In order to qualify for participation in the pilot program, the H-1B visa applicant must:
- Seek to renew an existing H-1B visa that was issued by either:
- A U.S. consulate in Canada between January 1, 2020 and April 1, 2023; or
- A U.S. consulate in India between February 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021.
- Not be subject to a nonimmigrant reciprocity fee
- Be eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview requirement
- Have submitted ten fingerprints to the DOS in connection with a prior visa application
- Not have a prior visa that contains a “clearance received” annotation
- Not require a waiver prior to visa issuance due to certain visa ineligibilities
- Have an approved and unexpired H-1B petition that was issued by USCIS, been most recently admitted into the U.S. in H-1B status, and been maintaining H-1B status in the U.S.
- Be in a period of authorized admission in H-1B status that has not expired
- Intend to return to the U.S. in H-1B status after a temporary period abroad
This update was prepared by Fausta M. Albi, Partner, Larrabee Albi Coker LLP.
Legal Disclaimer: This is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute for legal advice based on the circumstances of a specific matter. Immigration laws and policies change frequently, often without notice. It is therefore important to seek direct legal counsel based upon individual circumstances.