The US has formally launched a pilot programme to renew the much sought-after H-1B foreign work visas domestically, a move that is likely to benefit thousands of Indian tech professionals.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
Launched on January 29, the pilot renewal programme will run till April 1. It will allow H-1B visa holders who are currently in status to renew their visas in the US before a temporary trip abroad. An announcement in this regard was made during the historic State visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June last year.
In a statement on Monday, the State Department said the pilot programme will accept applications from January 29, 2024, through April 1, 2024, or when all application slots are filled, whichever comes first.
This is for the first time in nearly two decades that a limited number of H-1B nonimmigrants will be able to renew their visas from within the US.
Application slots will be released on January 29, February 5, February 12, February 19, and February 26. Applicants will only be able to apply through the portal linked below during the specified dates above, it said, adding that applications will be handled on a first-received, first-processed basis until the weekly limit is reached.
“Applicants who are unable to apply on one application date may reattempt application on any of the remaining application dates during the entry period. The application period will close when all application slots are filled or on April 1, 2024, whichever comes first,” it said.
The estimated processing time will take six to eight weeks from the date the applicant’s passport and other required documents are received by the state department.
The State Department said all applications will be handled on a strict first-received, first-processed basis, it said.
“Individuals who do not meet the requirements for participation in the pilot programme, or those who choose not to participate in the pilot programme, may continue to apply for visa renewal at a US embassy or consulate overseas,” the State Department said.