The State Department has plans to resume the process of domestic visa renewal and revalidation for specific categories, including L-1 and H-1B visas. This will be done with the launch of a new pilot program later this year, and it is expected to be beneficial for H-1B specialty occupation workers and L-1 visa holders who need to travel overseas to get their visas renewed.
What’s important to note here is that this is going to restart stateside visa renewals that were previously halted by the government in 2004. There was a time when H-1B workers and other non-immigrant visa holders were able to renew their visas and get stamped domestically in the US. However, this was stopped by the government, requiring foreign workers to travel to their home country and make an appointment at a US Embassy or Consulate to have their passports stamped with an H-1B extension.
Once the pilot program is fully operational, it is going to prove beneficial for H-1B and L-1 workers, enabling them to extend their visas without exiting the United States. Consequently, it will help deal with the visa backlogs at US Embassies and Consulates across the globe.
Furthermore, the pilot program is expected to help thousands of foreign workers, including those from India, where consular activities ought to be the busiest in the entire world.
Julie Stufft, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs, recently talked about the challenges faced by foreign workers during the pandemic who had to go back to their home country for visa renewal and could not return to the US because they were unable to get visa appointments. The Deputy Assistant Secretary further stated that the pilot program is aimed at addressing such problems.
Plus, the stateside renewal option is expected to be expanded to other visa holders after being available to H and L visa holders.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association, or AILA, has been rooting for a domestic visa renewal option since the pandemic began. However, Stufft made it clear that making this option available was difficult because a new consular division for the pilot program had to be established in Washington D.C
So far, only preliminary information has been provided. However, this is a notable move by the government to give relief to thousands of L-1 workers and H-1B technology professionals employed in the US. We’ll be sure to update you as more information regarding this comes to light.
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