On November 28, 2023, the U.S. Department of State (“DOS) held a briefing to discuss updates on U.S. visa processing worldwide for 2023. One of the hot topics covered was the implementation of the stateside visa renewal pilot program. Julie Stufft, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs confirmed that DOS is implementing a small pilot consisting of 20,000 visas that will begin sometime in December 2023 and run through February 2024. The pilot will provide DOS the opportunity to test out the operationality of the program and resolve any issues.
The domestic renewal of visas is a welcome change as many foreign workers who live in the U.S. will no longer be required to travel to a U.S. Consulate abroad to renew their visas. Instead, they may remain in the country and obtain a new visa foil by mailing in their application and passport to the DOS in Washington D.C., where the application will be processed.
Final details regarding the pilot will be released as soon as the final rule is published in the Federal Register. However, we understand that the criteria of the pilot will likely be limited to:
• H-1B principals only;
• Nationals of countries that are not subject to reciprocity fees (e.g., India, Singapore, and South Korea);
• Eligibility requirements similar to those for participation in the interview waiver program at U.S. Consulates abroad (i.e., Foreign workers who were previously issued any type of nonimmigrant visa in the same classification, where the prior visa has expired within 48 months, who have never been refused a visa unless such refusal was overcome or waived, and who have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility); and
• Voluntary participation.
After this initial launch, DOS hopes to open the program to more categories of workers living in the United States in the latter part of 2024.
We are closely monitoring the progress of the program and will provide additional details as they become available.
Please contact any member of the Dentons Immigration team if you have any questions regarding the above.