Domestic Visa Renewal Pilot Program Launches January 29
On January 29, 2024, the U.S. Department of State will launch a pilot domestic visa renewal program for a narrow group of H-1B visa workers. Domestic H-1B visa renewals have not been available since 2004 with the enactment of Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act.
The State Department announced the visa renewal program on December 21, 2023 in a Federal Register notice that includes the pilot dates of January 29 through April 1, along with program parameters and requirements. The notice also invites public comments through April 15, 2024.
Participation in this pilot is limited to applicants based on when and where their visas were originally issued. Eligible applicants must need to renew their H-1B visa during the pilot period, and their visas must have been issued “by Mission Canada with an issuance date from January 1, 2020, through April 1, 2023; or by Mission India with an issuance date of February 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021.” The program is available only to those who have an approved and unexpired H-1B petition, most recently admitted with an H-1B status, and currently maintaining an H-1B visa status. An otherwise qualified applicant could be ineligible for this program under certain instances, including criminal conduct (e.g., DUI), working for an OPT employer under investigation, traveling to a flagged country, misrepresentation, or application fraud. The Federal Register Notice provides the full list of requirements and exclusions. Notably, only the H-1B visa holder can apply for domestic renewal; dependents are not eligible for this program.
The TechServe Government Affairs Team encourages members to contact us with questions or concerns, or who would like to work with us to submit written comments before the April 15 deadline.
Final Regulations on Several H-1B Visa Proposed Rules Expected Soon
The USCIS Fee Schedule Rule, which included significant increases in H-1B visa fees, has cleared the review process and may be published any day. TechServe submitted comments and joined other groups in opposing significant increases.
Portions of the H-1B Visa Modernization Proposed Rule that proposed reforms to the visa lottery program are also expected to be finalized soon, in advance of the FY 2025 cap season lottery registration. TechServe submitted comments in December 2023, and urged USCIS to take action to prevent continued manipulation, by some, of the registration and lottery system.
The TechServe Government Affairs Team will continue to monitor developments. Please contact us with any questions.