In a move that could benefit tens of thousands of foreign tech workers on H-1B and L1 visas, the US is planning to resume “domestic visa revalidation” in certain categories on a pilot basis with the goal of scaling it up in the next few years.
The pilot project, to be launched later this year, when fully implemented, would be a big relief to thousands of Indian tech professionals in the United States.
Until 2004, certain categories of non-immigrant visas, particularly the H-1B, could be renewed or stamped inside the US. After that, for renewal of these visas, in particular, those on H-1B, the foreign tech workers have to go out of the country, mostly to their own country to get the H-1B extension stamped on their passport.
For all the H-1B visa holders, when their visa is renewed, they need to get their passports stamped with renewal dates. This is required if they wish to travel outside of the US and re-enter the US. As of now, H-1B visa restamping is not allowed within the US.
Restamping can only be done at any US consulate.
This was a big inconvenience for foreign guest workers and also for their employees, particularly at a time when the visa wait time is more than 800 days or more than two years.
“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 State Department spokesperson told PTI.