DOS Launched a Pilot Program for H-1b Visa Domestic Renewal

In a significant development for H-1B visa holders, the Department of State (DOS) initiated a pilot program on January 29, 2024, streamlining the visa renewal process. For the first time, certain H-1B visa holders now have the opportunity to renew their visas online, eliminating the need to travel outside the United States to an embassy or consulate. This pilot is specifically designed for principal H-1B applicants whose last visa was issued in India or Canada, offering a much-needed convenience for these individuals.

 Eligibility for this pilot program is quite specific: participants must be in the process of renewing an H-1B visa and have received their last visa in India between February 1, 2021, and September 30, 2021, or in Canada between January 1, 2020, and April 1, 2023. Applicants must not be subject to a reciprocity fee, should be eligible for an interview waiver, have previously submitted 10 fingerprints to the DOS, and not have a "clearance received" annotation on their previous visa. Importantly, applicants must have a valid H-1B petition, be in H-1B status in the U.S., and intend to re-enter the U.S. in H-1B status after temporary travel abroad.

 The pilot program, which runs from January 29 to April 1, 2024, will accept 4,000 applications weekly on specified dates. The application process is entirely online, requiring the submission of Form DS-160 along with necessary documentation and payment of the Machine-Readable Visa fee. Applicants from Canada and India have designated websites for the renewal process, and successful applicants will receive their visas and documents via mail or courier. With an average processing time of 6 to 8 weeks and no option for expedited processing, this pilot program represents a pivotal change, offering a streamlined, efficient path for H-1B visa renewals.

We are closely monitoring the situation and encourage you to contact our office at Shuyuan (Michelle) Tian, Esq. at 6073041287 and if you have any questions.

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