New Pilot Program for Domestic Renewal of H-1B Visas

The U.S. Department of State has launched a pilot program for the domestic renewal of H-1B nonimmigrant visas for certain applicants. This program is aimed at qualified H-1B visa holders and will run from January 29, 2024, to April 1, 2024, or until all application slots are filled.

DOS guidance and Faq can be found here.

There is also an online tool that helps applicants figure out whether they qualify for the domestic visa renewal.

Key Points:

  1. Eligibility and Process:
    • The program is limited to renewals of H-1B visas previously issued in India and Canada.
    • Applicants must use an online tool to verify eligibility and submit a DS-160 form along with a $205 fee.
    • Required documents include a valid passport, recent photograph, Form I-797, and Form I-94.
    • The program offers 20,000 application slots, divided weekly between applicants from India and Canada.
  2. Eligibility Criteria:
    • Applicants must currently hold H-1B status in the U.S. and have an approved, unexpired H-1B petition.
    • They should have submitted ten fingerprints in a previous application and not have a ‘clearance received’ annotation or visa ineligibility.
    • They must intend to reenter the U.S. in H-1B status after a temporary period abroad.
  3. Logistics & Fees:
    • Processing is estimated to take 6-8 weeks after receiving the applicant’s documents.
    • Applications cannot be expedited and are processed on a first-received, first-processed basis.
    • The MRV fee is non-refundable, even if the application is withdrawn or refused.
  4. Ineligibilities and Refusals:
    • Applicants from countries with a reciprocity fee cannot participate.
    • Those ineligible for an interview waiver or with certain visa ineligibilities must apply overseas.
    • Refused or returned applications must be resubmitted with a new MRV fee at a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas.
  5. Interview Waiver Eligibility:
    • Applicants must be residents in the U.S. and meet specific criteria for a waiver of the in-person interview requirement.

This pilot program offers a convenient option for eligible H-1B visa holders to renew their visas domestically. However, it’s important to carefully check eligibility and understand that the MRV fee is non-refundable. For detailed information and application instructions, visit the official website (link above).