Certain H-1B non-immigrants will soon be eligible to apply for visa stamping within the U.S.
On December 21, 2023 the U.S. Department of States (“DOS”) announced the anticipated pilot program to resume visa stamping within the United States for limited and qualified foreign nationals.
What is “Visa Stamping”
Visa stamping is the physical application of a visa onto a foreign national’s passport. This endorsement is typically done at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad, and it signifies official permission for the foreign national to enter the United States for a specified purpose, such as tourism, work, study, or family reunification. For foreign nationals that were already in the United States but needed to travel abroad and return to the U.S., the processes of scheduling a visa stamping appointment and visiting a specified U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad was often daunting and cumbersome, especially with extreme backlogs in visa stamping appointment availability.
When will State Side Visa Stamping begin?
The pilot program will accept applications from January 29, 2024 to April 1, 2024. This timeframe will be limited to accepting 4000 visa stamping appointments a week, for a total of 20,000 for the initial application period.
Who can apply for State Side Visa Stamping?
The program is currently very limited and only those foreign national applicants who meet each of the below requirements will be eligible for State Side Visa Stamping:
How can I apply?
Applicants can apply using the following link: Domestic Renewal of H-1B Nonimmigrant Visas for Certain Applicants (state.gov). On this site, applicants will be directed to select the host-country post of their most recent H-1B visa issuance (either Canada or India). From there, applicants will be taken through a navigator tool, which will assist applicants in assessing their qualifications for participation in the pilot program. If eligible, the applicant will need to complete the electronic DS-160 and pay the visa application fee of $205.
What documents do I need to apply for stateside visa stamping?
The following documents will need to be provided for the stateside visa processing:
After completing the DS-160 and paying the MRV fee, applicants will be provided information via the portal on where and how to send their passports and required documentation.
How long will it take to get my visa stamp?
Applicants may check the status of their application at:
https://ceac.state.gov/CEACStatTracker/Status.aspx?App=NIV. The average processing time for a domestic visa renewal application is expected to be six to eight weeks from the time that the passport and other required documents are received by the Department and will be processed in the order that they are received. The DOS aims to complete processing of all applications no later than May 1, 2024. The DOS will not consider requests for expedited processing. Issued visas, passports, and other documents submitted by the applicant will be returned via U.S. Postal Service or a commercial courier.
For any questions or assistance regarding this Stateside H-1B Visa Renewal Pilot Program, contact the attorneys at Minsky McCormick and Hallagan.
Am I eligible for the H-1B Domestic Renewal Pilot Program? Complete this questionnaire and find out.
The material contained in this alert does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only. An attorney-client relationship is not presumed or intended by receipt or review of this presentation. The information provided should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed.
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