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Stateside Visa Renewal Pilot Clears Federal Review

A State Department pilot program that will permit certain H-1B nonimmigrants to apply for visa renewal within the United States has cleared the Office of Management and Budget federal review process, putting the pilot closer to implementation. The next step for the long-awaited pilot will be publication in the Federal Register of an official notice containing program details and eligibility requirements. Publication is expected in the coming days. Implementation of the stateside renewal pilot is expected to begin by February 2024.

The issue

A State Department pilot program that will permit certain H-1B nonimmigrants to renew their H-1B visas within the United States has been cleared by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), putting the program a step closer to publication and implementation.

Though details of the pilot will remain confidential until released by the State Department, the initial phase is expected to allow eligible H-1B nonimmigrants to renew their expired or expiring visa within the United States, without the need to travel to a U.S. consulate abroad. The initial pilot is expected to be available only to nationals of countries that do not require a reciprocity fee for visa issuance; India has been confirmed by government officials as included in the pilot.

The pilot program is also expected to be initially limited to the issuance of 20,000 H-1B visas, as the State Department tests its ability to adjudicate visa renewals from within the United States. However, the agency has publicly stated that it plans to expand the pilot program, including to the H-4 and other nonimmigrant visa categories, in 2024 and beyond.

The opening date for submitting applications under the pilot is not yet known, but the State Department’s current regulatory agenda lists an implementation start date of February 2024.

What’s next for the forthcoming program

By the end December 2023, the State Department is expected to publish a notice in the Federal Register that explains who is eligible for stateside visa renewal, how to apply, and when the agency will begin to accept applications. We are closely monitoring announcements related to the pilot program and will issue updates as developments occur.

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