On December 21, 2023, the State Department announced a pilot program to resume domestic visa renewals for certain qualified H-1B nonimmigrant visa applicants. This service has not been available in the U.S. for decades but an important point to note is that the pilot is limited to certain H-1B applicants only. The State Department will be adding additional visa categories in the future, thereby reducing worldwide visa appointment/stamping wait times at the various U.S. Consulates and Embassies.
Eligibility Requirements for Pilot Program:
- H-1B applicants only
- Must qualify for waiver of in person interview at U.S. Consulate/Embassy
- Must have fingerprints on file with the DOS, received in connection with a prior visa
- Prior H-1B visa that is being renewed was issued by Mission Canada (Issued between 01/01/2020 to 04/01/2023) OR Mission India (Issued between 02/01/2021 and 09/30/2021.)
- It is expected that this program will be expanded to include additional countries, and additional time intervals
- Applicant must not be subject to visa issuance fee OR reciprocity fee
- Applicant must not be ineligible for the visa or require a visa waiver prior to visa issuance
- Applicant’s prior visa must not have been issued with ‘clearance received’ annotation
- Applicant must have approved and unexpired H-1B petition
- Applicant must have been recently admitted to the U.S. in H-1B (not any other visa classification)
- Applicant must be maintaining their H-1B status in the U.S.
- Applicant must intend to re-enter the country in H-1B status after a temporary period abroad
Applicants can continue to apply for their visa stamping at overseas U.S. Embassy/Consulates if they do not wish to participate in visa stamping program.
Application Period and Information
Beginning 01/29/2024 and each Monday thereafter, the Department of State will release approximately 4,000 application slots. These will be divided evenly between visas issued by Mission Canada or Mission India. If the limit is reached during the week, it will be ‘locked’ until the following Monday, where new application slots will be released.
The application period for the pilot program will close when all application slots are filled, or on 04/01/2024, whichever comes first. We expect that the application slots will be filled prior to April 2024.
We expect the average processing times for the application will be between 6-8 weeks from the time passports and all required documents are received. All applications are expected to be completed by May 01, 2024.
There will be no premium/expedited processing available.
How to Apply
The applications will be processed at this website.
After completing the initial assessment, the applicant will be required to electronically complete and submit the Form DS-160 and pay the required fee ($205). The applicant will also submit the following documents:
- One U.S. passport style photograph
- Valid passport, valid for at least six months beyond visa application date. Must also have a blank unmarked page for visa foil placement.
- Original or copy of applicant’s current Form I-797 Approval Notice
- Original or copy of applicant’s Form I-94 (most recent)
Please note that although an applicant has submitted all the required documents and information, visa issuance through the domestic program is not guaranteed. In the event that the visa is not issued, the applicant would need to apply for the visa stamp outside the U.S. at a consulate or embassy.
The application period will open on 01/29/2024 and will continue throughout February 2024.