Within the US H1B Visa Renewal Pilot Program to Commence from January 29, 2024

Posted by Nishu Sharma | Dec 20, 2023 | 0 Comments

On December 21, 2023, US Department of State in the Federal Register published a notice of pilot program to resume renewal of H-1B Nonimmigrant Visas in the United States for Certain Qualified Noncitizens. The notice describes the following requirements, the procedure for participation in the pilot program, and the required documents that need to be submitted:

I.              Requirements for Participation: Some of these requirements are mandated by statute or regulation. Others are discretionary requirements and are designed to limit the pilot program population to a size that is manageable.

·      The Applicant should have previously submitted ten fingerprints to the Department in connection with the application for the prior visa.

·      The Applicant is eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview requirement under Section 222(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

·      Prior H-1B visa that is being renewed was issued by Mission Canada with an issuance date from January 01, 2020, through April 01, 2023; or by Mission India with an issuance date of February 01, 2021, through September 30, 2021.

·      The Applicant is not subject to a nonimmigrant visa issuance fee (Note: this is commonly referred to as a “reciprocity fee”).

·      The prior visa does not include a “clearance received” annotation.

·      The Applicant does not have a visa ineligibility that would require a waiver prior to visa issuance.

·      The Applicant has an approved and unexpired H-1B Petition.

·      The Applicant was most recently admitted to the United States in H-1B Status.

·      The Applicant is currently maintaining H-1B status in the United States.

·      The period of authorized admission in H-1B status has not expired.

·      The Applicant has an intend to reenter the United States in H-1B Status after a temporary period abroad.

·      The Applicant for domestic visa renewal must reside in the United States. The Applicant is not required to submit evidence of residence in the United States at the time they submit their application beyond the information requested in the visa application; however, additional information may be requested at any time prior to visa issuance.

II.            Procedure and Timeline for Participation

·      The initial pilot program will run from January 29, 2024, to April 01, 2024. The application period for the pilot will close when all application slots are filled or on April 01, 2024, whichever comes first.

·      The Applicants who meet the requirements may choose to participate during the application window by applying online at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/employment/domestic- renewal.html. On this site, the Applicant will be directed to select the host-country post of their most recent H-1B visa issuance (either Canada or India). From there, the Applicant will be taken through a navigator tool, which will assist the Applicant in assessing their qualifications for participation in the pilot. After completing the self- assessment, the qualified Applicant must electronically complete and submit Form DS-160. The qualified Applicant will also receive instructions through the portal on how to pay the required $205.00, non-refundable, non-transferrable Machine-Readable Visa (MRV) application processing fee and where to mail their passports and other required documents for processing. The MRV application processing fee payment will not be refunded.

·      The Department of State will release approximately 4,000 application slots (2000 for H1B visas that were issued by Mission Canada And 2000 for H1B visas that were issued by Mission India) on the following dates: January 29, 2024; February 05, 2024; February 12, 2024; February 19, 2024; and February 26, 2024. Every application received will be counted against an approximate 2,000 maximum weekly limit for each participating Mission. Once the limit is reached, the online portal will be locked until the next tranche of slots are released for each participating Mission group on the next application date.

III.          Required Documents that Each Applicant Must Submit for Domestic H-1B Visa Renewal

·      A properly completed and electronically filed DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application.

·      One photograph (taken within the last six months), which meets the specifications at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply/photos.html.

·      A passport valid for travel to the United States, which is valid for at least six months beyond the visa application date, and contains a blank, unmarked page for placement of a visa foil.

·      The original or a copy of the applicant's current Form I-797, Notice of Action.

·      The original or a copy of the applicant's Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record.

Please note, the participation in the pilot program is voluntary and the individuals who do not wish to participate in this pilot my continue to apply overseas at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate where thy have a residence or are physically present. Also, the Department of State will not provide non-automated status reports on individual applications, other than the return of the application, issuance of the visa, or refusal, nor will it expedite applications. The Applicant may check the status of their application at: https://ceac.state.gov/CEACStatTracker/Status.aspx?App=NIV

The average processing time for a domestic visa renewal application is expected to be six to eight weeks from the time that the passport and other required documents are received by the Department of State. The Department of State aims to complete processing of all applications no later than May 01, 2024. If an applicant applies for domestic visa renewal and learns that they must travel urgently, the applicant may withdraw their application and request through the online portal that their passport be returned to them. If the applicant withdraws their application during the adjudication process, it will be refused under INA 221(g) and the MRV fee will not be refunded. The INA 221(g) refusal will not prejudice any future application.

 We regularly update our blog section to acquaint the community with the latest changes in Immigration policies. Please note the information in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be nor should it be construed as legal advice. We can promptly and efficiently represent clients located anywhere in the US or abroad on US Immigration Policies. If you seek further clarification, don't hesitate to contact SanSha Law Office at [email protected] or call us at 469-777-6161.


About the Author

Nishu Sharma

Ms Nishu Sharma is the founder and Managing Attorney of SanSha Law Offices PLLC. It was founded on the principle and commitment to serve the people with the best service that we can provide. The firm has served clients from Texas and other states of the US. She has handled all kinds of complex im...


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