The United States is launching a domestic visa renewal program for certain H-1B visas in December, mainly benefiting Indian technology professionals.
The initiative aims to alleviate long wait times for visa appointments, particularly in India, initially issuing 20,000 visas to foreign nationals already in the US, with a focus on Indians due to their significant skilled workforce presence.
This move, announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit and formally endorsed later, has received positive feedback from the Indian community in the US. Indian-American community leader Ajay Jain Bhutoria praised the program’s implementation, highlighting its positive impact on over a million H-1B visa holders and advocating for further policy changes to support legal immigrants.
Highlights: US to begin H-1B visa renewals starting from December
US to launch a pilot program for H1-B visa renewals which is an advantage for Indian tech professionals.
The focus is on reducing waiting times, easing the process of renewals, and eradicating the need for individuals going back to their home country for appointments.
The program aims on covering 20,000 work visa renewals starting from 1st of December and looks forward on extending the program plan in 2024.
Pilot program details and objectives
The program which started 0n December 1st, aims to have around 20,000 work visa renewals, constituting approximately 10% of the anticipated 583,420 H-1B visa holders. The program was initially proposed in February gained formal announcement and recognition during PM Modi’s visit to the US in September.
Presently, visa applicants must wait for an average period of 130 days, which is equivalent to 6–8 weeks for appointments in their home country. Moreover, individuals are restricted from traveling abroad until their visa has been renewed every three years.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services, Julie Stufft, acknowledged the high demand in India for US visas and that the existing waiting times are unnecessary. She highlighted the program’s focus on simplifying the renewal process by aiming on easing it for Indians by enabling them to schedule appointments promptly.
Positive impact and future prospects
The program will be benefitting India, and will reduce the need for individuals to travel back to their home country for visa appointments. The streamlined renewal process also intends to free up valuable time for US missions in India in order to concentrate on new candidates.
A formal notice in the federal register which details the procedures, requirements, and guidelines for the first round of applicants is expected to be released shortly. The program covering 20,000 cases from December to February, paves the way for the State Department’s plan to extend the program for more employment categories in 2024.
Ajay Jain Bhutoria, a prominent figure in the Indian-American community, expressed happiness with the outcome, highlighting the positive impact on over a million H-1B holders, many of whom are Indian.
Immigration laws are seen becoming more inclusive, which is viewed as a positive development with commitment to easing restrictions on lawful immigrants. The evolving landscape aims to create a more accessible and accommodating environment for skilled professionals seeking opportunities in the United States.