The Department of State announced that later this year, a pilot program will be launched to enable H-1B and L-1 visa renewal applications – not initial applications – to be filed at a DOS office in the United States. The program is actually a restoration of a valuable procedure that was eliminated in 2004.
The pandemic highlighted the utility of this option. It suddenly became difficult or impossible for H-1B and L-1 visaholders to travel to U.S. consulates in their home countries. Soon, interview slots at those consulates became scarce. These factors caused numerous hardship situations for employers and employees.
There continue to be visa interview bottlenecks at many U.S. consulates. If H-1B and L-1 visaholders already in the U.S. could reapply without departing, the workload of the consulates would be reduced. Those eligible for this procedural benefit would have already undergone security vetting when they applied for their initial visa.
We will keep you advised about progress with this very positive development.