On December 21, 2023, the Department of State (DOS) published a Federal Register notice announcing details regarding the domestic visa renewal pilot program, which allows applicants to renew their H-1B visas without needing to return to their home country. The pilot program will resume on January 29, 2024, and will accept applications until April 1, 2024. The program’s goal is to assess the agency’s processing capacity for in-country visa renewals and to examine how the modernized program impacts visa wait times on a global scale.
Participation in the program is voluntary and is limited to principal H-1B principal applicants who meet certain requirements. Please note H-4 dependents are ineligible to participate.
The requirements are as follows:
- Be a resident in the U.S.
- Renewal of an H-1B visa within the pilot program window spanning from January 29, 2024, to April 1, 2024.
- Renewal of a prior H-1B visa (issued by Canada between January 1, 2020, and April 1, 2023) or (issued by India between February 1, 2021, and September 30, 2021).
- Exemption from a nonimmigrant visa reciprocity fee.
- Qualification for an in-person interview waiver.
- Submission of 10 fingerprints to the DOS in relation to a previous visa application.
- Absence of a “clearance received” annotation in relation to prior visa.
- Exemption from visa ineligibility that would require a waiver prior to visa issuance.
- Possession of an approved and unexpired H-1B petition, with the most recent admission to the U.S. in H-1B status.
- Continuous maintenance of H-1B status in the U.S.
- Period of authorized admission in H-1B status has not expired.
- Intent to reenter the U.S. in H-1B status following a temporary period abroad.
Individuals who are not eligible to participate in the program or decide not to participate may apply for vis renewal at a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas.
Applications for this program will be accepted through this website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/employment/domestic-renewal.html. Approximately 4,000 application slots will be made available within each week of the five-week program window.
The application slots will open on the following dates:
- January 29, 2024
- February 05, 2024
- February 12, 2024
- February 19, 2024
- February 26, 2024
Applicants unable to apply on one application date can reattempt to apply on any remaining dates. The program application process will conclude either when all slots are filled, or on April 1, 2024, whichever occurs first.
Application Process and Required Documentation
When applying, applicants will be required to:
- Specify the consular post of their most recent H-1B visa issuance (Canada or India).
- Answer questions to determine their eligibility to participate in the program.
- Complete and submit an Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160) if program participation requirements are met.
- Make an online payment for a non-refundable, non-transferable fee of $205.00.
- If an applicant is ultimately deemed ineligible for the program, even if they were not disqualified by the eligibility questions, the fee will not be refunded.
- Follow instructions regarding how to send their passports and other required documents to the DOS.
Applicants must submit an electronically filed DS-160, a passport-style photo taken within the last six months, and a valid passport with an empty page for a visa stamp. Additionally, they need to provide either the original or a copy of their current Form I-797 and the original or a copy of their I-94. Please note evidence of residence in the U.S. may be requested prior to a renewed visa being issued.
The average processing time for applications is six to eight weeks from the date the DOS receives the individual’s passport and other required documents. Applications will be evaluated in their submission order until the weekly quota is reached.