Quick Takeaways

  • The pilot program will only be available to certain H-1B Visas between January 29 – April 1, 2024
  • The H-1B Visa must have been issued in Canada or India between country-specific date ranges
  • The total number of H-1B Visas the Department of State will be capped at 20,000
  • In total, must meet 12 criteria to be considered under the pilot program

In the spirit of the season, we at Green and Spiegel are happy to provide a bit of holiday cheers courtesy of the U.S. Department of State!  

As we previewed earlier this year, on December 20, 2023 the U.S. Department of State published a notice in the Federal Register the temporary resumption of stateside H-1B Visa renewals for certain applicants, thereby relieving eligible individuals of needing to contend with limited appointment and/or mail-in availability at a U.S. Consulate abroad, which remain impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The pilot program is scheduled to run from January 29, 2024 to April 1, 2024, and will only be available to 20,000 H-1B Visa holders – and not their H-4 dependents – whose H-1B Visas were issued in Canada between January 1, 2020 and April 1, 2023 OR in India between February 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021. As such, the H-1B Visa holder need not be Canadian or Indian; rather, eligible applicants will have had their most recent H-1B Visa issued by a U.S. Consulate in Canada or India. 

In addition to these characteristics, eligible applicants must fit the following description to take advantage of the pilot program: 

  1. They need not pay a visa issuance fee (as per the Visa Reciprocity Schedule);
  2. They must be otherwise eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview requirement;
  3. They must have been previously had their ten fingerprints taken when applying for a visa;
  4. Their prior visa may not include an annotation stating “clearance received”;
  5. They do not require a waiver before the visa’s issuance;
  6. Their approved H-1B Petition is presently valid;
  7. They were last admitted to the United States in H-1B status and are currently maintaining H-1B status pursuant to a valid H-1B Petition that has not expired; and
  8. They plan on re-entering the United States in H–1B status after a temporary period abroad.

Starting the week of January 29, the U.S. Department of State will release approximately 2,000 H-1B Visas per diplomatic mission – i.e., 2,000 for Canada and 2,000 for India – the following four Mondays: on February 5, 12, 19, and 26. If unused H-1B Visas remain, they will be made available accordingly. Interested and eligible applicants will be able to complete an online form available on the U.S. Department of State’s website, and applications will be evaluated in the order received. If eligible and selected to participate, applicants will be issued instructions regarding where to send the renewal application, and what said application should include documentarily. In all, State estimates the renewal process will take 6-8 weeks. 

Though we wish it were more widely applicable, we are nevertheless excited to see the return of stateside H-1B Visa renewal after an extended absence. If you have any questions concerning your eligibility for the pilot program or how to go about submitting your application, please contact our Firm

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