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The State Department’s draft Federal Register notice, titled, “Pilot Program to Resume Renewal of H-1B Nonimmigrant Visas in the United States for Certain Qualified Noncitizens,” is still currently under review by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

Quick Hits

  • AILA released details of a State Department pilot program for stateside nonimmmigrant visa renewals.
  • The pilot will be limited to H-1B principals only and available for 20,000 applicants.
  • The program is scheduled to begin in early 2024.

AILA’s announcement (AILA Doc. No. 23101806) indicates that the pilot program will begin in early 2024. In addition, the program will be limited only to H-1B principals and nationals of countries such as India that are not subject to reciprocity fees. The AILA announcement also stated that the program will:

  • “[h]ave eligibility requirements like those for participation in the interview waiver program”;
  • “[b]e available for 20,000 applicants”; and
  • “b]e voluntary participation.”

A full list of eligibility criteria and the scope of the program will be shared when it is published in the Federal Register.

Additional Context

The stateside visa renewal program will allow applicants in eligible visa categories to renew their expiring visas without leaving the United States, reducing the workload of consular offices abroad.

The stateside renewal program will start as a pilot program for H-1B specialty occupation workers only, but the State Department has expressed its interest and intention in expanding this program after its initial rollout.

The program was previously discontinued in 2004, making it mandatory for most visa applicants to apply for their initial visas or visa renewals at consular locations abroad for reentry to the United States. Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments with respect to this policy change and will provide updates on the Immigration blog as additional information becomes available.

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