DOS H-1B Visa Renewal Pilot Program

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) is launching a pilot program for H-1B visa renewals starting January 29, 2024. The pilot program has an allocation of 20,000 H-1B visas. On a weekly basis, the DOS will release approximately 4,000 application slots. Notably, half of these slots are specifically reserved for H-1B visa applicants with their most recent visas issued by Mission Canada, while the remaining 2,000 slots are designated for applicants whose prior visas were issued by Mission India within specific dates.

Eligibility criteria:

• Program will process only H-1B renewals for principal applicants, with H-4 dependents’ applications being excluded;
• H-1B visa intended for renewal must have been issued by Mission Canada between January 1, 2020 and April 1, 2023, or by Mission India from February 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021;
• Applicant should not be subject to a non-immigrant visa issuance fee, commonly known as a “reciprocity fee.” Indian citizens are specifically exempt from the H-1B reciprocity fee;
• In-person interview waiver, prior fingerprint submission, and absence of “clearance received” annotation on the prior visa are prerequisites;
• Applicant must not require a waiver for the issuance of a visa;
• Applicant must hold an approved and unexpired H-1B petition; and
• The applicant should have been recently admitted to the U.S. in H-1B status, must continue to maintain valid status with an unexpired authorized admission period, and intend to re-enter the U.S. after a temporary sojourn abroad.

The application procedure will be facilitated through an online portal and the applicant will need to pay the standard $205 MRV fee. The processing time is expected to be approximately 6 to 8 weeks, and once the visas are issued the stamped passports will be returned to applicants via the U.S. postal service or courier.

Program aims to conclude processing by May 1, 2024. DOS continues to seek feedback from stakeholders.

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