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Stateside Visa Renewal Pilot Program Begins January 29, 2024

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Stateside Visa Renewal Pilot Program Begins January 29, 2024

The Department of State (DOS) has published a Federal Register Notice that the stateside visa renewal pilot program will be effective on January 29, 2024 through April 1, 2024. This pilot program is only available for renewals for H-1B principals only.  Unfortunately, H-4 dependents will still need to visit a consulate abroad for visa stamping.

The program is limited to individuals who are renewing an H-1B visa issued by Mission Canada and Mission India only.

Requirements for Participation in the Pilot Program:

  • Must renew H-1B visa between January 29, 2024 and April 1, 2024 
  • Must be renewing a prior H-1B issued by Mission Canada with an issuance date of January 1, 2020 through April 1 2023, or by Mission India with an issuance date of February 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021
  • Must not be subject to a visa issuance (reciprocity) fee
  • Must be eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview
  • Must have been 10-printed by DOS in connection with prior visa applications
  • Prior visa does not have a “Clearance Received” notation
  • Do not require a waiver due to visa ineligibility
  • Must have an approved and  unexpired H-1B petition and are maintaining H-1B status in the U.S.
  • Authorized period of H-1B admission has not expired
  • Intend to re-enter the U.S. in H-1B after a temporary period abroad

How to Apply

The DOS will begin accepting online applications for the pilot program on January 29, 2024 via their website. DOS will be releasing approximately 2,000 application slots each week per mission (Canada or India).   The anticipated dates of these application slot releases are:

  • January 29, 2024
  • February  5, 2024
  • February 12, 2024
  • February 19, 2024
  • February 26, 2024

Once the weekly limits are reached for each mission, the portal will be locked until the next schedule slot release.  The application process will close when all slots or filled, or on April 1, 2024, whichever is sooner.

In order to submit the application, applicants will need to:

  • Visit the dedicated application portal
  • Select the post of their most recent H-1B \visa issuance (Canada or India)
  • Answer eligibility questions for the pilot program
  • Complete and submit the Form DS-160
  • Pay the Machine-Readable Visa (MRV) fee online using a major debit or credit card.  Please note that this fee is non-refundable.
  • Receive instructions on how to send their passport and required documentation to the DOS

Applicants will need to provide the following documentation to the DOS:

  • Confirmation of the completed DS-160
  • Passport style photograph taken within the last 6 months
  • Valid passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the visa application date with a blank page for the visa stamp to be placed
  • Original or copy of the current H-1B approval notice
  • Original or copy of the I-94 record

Applications will be reviewed in the order in which they are received and applicants can track their status at the Consular Electronic Application Center website.

After the Application

If approved, the passport with the visa stamp and all documents submitted will be returned via USPS or courier service.

If an application is not eligible for the pilot program, DSO will return the application and will not refund the MRV fee.

If additional information is required, the DOS will issue a 221(g) and provide instructions on how to provide the requested information, prior to April 15, 2024.  If the requested information is received by April 15, 2024, DOS will issue the visa.  After May 1, 2024 the visa will be refused.

Please reach out to Meltzer Hellrung with any questions.