- U.S. to pilot domestic revalidation for H-1B, L1 visas.
- Pilot project to help thousands of Indian tech workers, eliminate travel for visa renewal.
- Biden administration simplifying visa application process.
In a move that may help tens of thousands of foreign IT employees on H-1B and L1 visas, the US intends to resume “domestic visa revalidation” in a few categories on a pilot basis with the intention of expanding it in the coming years.
When fully implemented, the pilot project, which will be introduced later this year, will provide a huge amount of relief for thousands of Indian tech professionals working in the US.
Prior to 2004, the US allowed for the renewal or stamping of some non-immigrant visa types, most notably the H-1B. The foreign tech workers need leave the country, typically to their own country, to have the H-1B extension stamped on their passports in order to renew their visas, especially those on H-1B.
All H-1B visa holders must have the renewal dates on their passports stamped every time their visa is extended. If they want to leave the country and return, they must do this. Re-stamping of H-1B visas is not now permitted in the US.
Any US consulate can do a restamp.
The highly sought H-1B visas are granted for periods of three years.
A non-immigrant visa called the H-1B allows US companies to employ foreign nationals for specialised jobs that need for theoretical or technical expertise. Tens of thousands of workers each year from nations like China and India are hired by technology companies as a result.
“We are working in earnest on plans to restart this service for certain petition-based NIV categories, and we hope to have a pilot up and running later this year. This would eliminate the need for these applicants to travel abroad to renew visas,” a spokesperson for the State Department informed PTI.
According to the official, the State Department helped with domestic visa renewal in some petition-based non-immigrant visa (NIV) categories for applicants who were physically present in the US up to 2004.
The State Department official said in response to a question, “We cannot comment on the number of visa holders who would initially be eligible, but the pilot would begin with a small number of cases before scaling over the following 1-2 years.”
The Biden administration has made a number of moves in recent months to simplify the visa application process and lessen hassles.
Notably, the State Department appears to have followed through on this suggestion from the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.
According to the current regulation, which went into effect in 2004, the process for renewing H1-B and L visas include travelling home and submitting their passports, H1 and L1 visas, and supporting documentation by dropbox or interview.
People sometimes receive no response after submitting all the required paperwork for an H1-B visa stamping and are left stuck in their home country for more than 2 years. The presidential commission had argued in one of its meetings last year that they should not return while their families are waiting for them to do so in the US.
The presidential commission recommended that US Citizenship and Immigration Services permit the restamping of H1-B and L visas in the US on a motion made by commission member Ajay Jain Bhutoria of Silicon Valley (USCIS).
It requested that the USCIS create a separate department or unit to manage the restamping of extended H1-B and L visas inside the US.
According to the commission, legal immigrants who are invited to work in the US to help US companies and the economy have found the entire procedure to be extremely difficult.