The Department of State is scheduled to publish tomorrow the regulation authorizing a pilot program that will allow for nonimmigrant visa issuance domestically, potentially facilitating travel for thousands of nonimmigrant workers.
As framed, the program will accept applications from January 29th to April 1, 2024 and will be available for the following eligible applicants:
- Seeking to renew an H-1B visa (no other classifications are being authorized in the pilot program, including H-4 dependents);
- Have a prior H-1B visa that was issued either:
- By a US Consulate/Embassy in Canada with an issuance date from January 1, 2020, through April 1, 2023;
- By a US Consulate/Embassy in India with an issuance date of February 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021;
- Are not subject to a reciprocity fee (Indian citizens applying for an H-1B are not subject to this fee);
- Do not have a prior visa with a “clearance received” annotation;
- Have an approved and valid H-1B petition, were most recently admitted to the United States in H-1B status and continue to maintain valid H-1B status;
- Are eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview requirement;
- Have submitted ten fingerprints in connection with a previous visa application;
- Intend to reenter the United States in H-1B status after a temporary period abroad. (we do not know at this time whether evidence of the international travel will be required).
Those eligible and interested in applying should do so by visiting https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/employment/domesticrenewal.html. The Department of State will release slots for applicants on specific dates (January 29th, February 5th, February 12th, February 19th and February 26th) and once the slots have been taken, the online portal will be locked until the next release date.
The application process will require, similar to an application submitted a US Consular post abroad, the submission of a DS-160 form and payment of the Machine-Readable Visa (MRV) fee, and applicants must not have a visa ineligibility that would require a waiver prior to visa issuance.
The Department of State is estimating that processing time for visa applications submitted in connection with this program to take 6-8 weeks and will not entertain requests for expedited processing.
Please reach out to your Graham Adair attorney with any questions, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 408-715-7067.