Stateside Visa Pilot ProgramOctober 26, 2023
On October 17, 2023, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) sent a Federal Register notice titled, “Pilot Program to Resume Renewal of H-1B Nonimmigrant Visas in the United States for Certain Qualified Noncitizens” to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. This program would allow visa holders to receive a visa stamp in their passport without having to attend a visa interview at a U.S. consulate abroad.
For nearly 20 years, visa applicants have been required to apply for a U.S. visa at a consulate abroad in order to obtain a U.S. visa. Many applicants must attend an in-person interview at the consulate, though some are permitted to apply without attending an interview using the interview waiver program. Frequently, visa waiting lines are long and attending the appointment requires significant logistical challenges, particularly when many family members are attending one appointment. Attending a visa appointment is particularly challenging for those wishing to extend their visa and who only have a limited amount of time in the country where they plan to apply.
The program is proposed to launch in early 2024 and will be limited to only the H-1B principal applicants (H-4 dependents will not qualify at this time). The program will be limited to nationals of countries that are not subject to reciprocity fees and will be available for 20,000 applicants.
If the program proves successful, the DOS has expressed its strong desire to expand the program’s eligibility to other visa categories and individuals.