The Department of State has officially announced the Stateside Renewal Visa Program through a Federal Register Notice, inviting eligible individuals to participate in the pilot program from January 29th to April 1st. This initiative, advocated by AILA since 2021, is a significant development in visa processing.
The program is exclusively available to H-1B principal beneficiaries from India and Canada. The Department will accept applications on five different dates, allowing up to 2,000 applicants from each nationality each time. The eligibility criteria are detailed and include requirements such as having an approved and unexpired H-1B petition, maintaining current H-1B status in the United States, and intending to reenter the country in H-1B status after a temporary period abroad.
Notably, participants must have their prior H-1B visa issued by Mission Canada with an issuance date from January 1, 2020, through April 1, 2023, or by Mission India with an issuance date of February 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021. The program is exclusive to H-1B visa renewals, and during the pilot phase, the Department will not process any other visa classifications.
The Department’s selected eligibility criteria aim to limit participation to 20,000 applicants. The immigration bar expresses excitement for this initial launch, marking a positive step in facilitating the renewal process for H-1B visa holders, and eagerly awaits further developments in the Stateside Renewal Visa Program.