White House clears pilot project for domestic renewal of H-1B visas


Indian professionals in the US have some reason to cheer – the White House has okayed a pilot program allowing H-1B visa holders to renew their visas without leaving the US. To begin with, 20,000 H-1B specialty occupation workers will be able to renew their visas in the US beginning from January 2024.

The pilot project for the renewal of H-1B visas within the US has cleared a review by the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. More details about eligibility and operation of the pilot project will be announced through a notice published in the Federal Register, Bloomberg Law reported.

The pilot program cleared the review of the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs review on December 15, the final regulatory hurdle before publication. This decision comes months after the White House announced a pilot program for domestic renewal of certain categories of H-1B visas during the state visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June this year.

Under this program, H-1B holders will be allowed to renew their visas by mailing them to the State Department rather than travel outside the US and face uncertain wait times to secure an appointment at an American consular office before returning.

In countries like India, the largest source of H-1B workers, high visa wait times have added uncertainty to travel plans for those workers and their employers. An estimated 75 percent of the H-1B visas granted in a year go to workers from India, hired by some of the largest US tech giants like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook. Due to visa backlogs, some H-1B workers have pursued workarounds like traveling to nearby countries with fewer backlogs to secure appointments.


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