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The US Department of State (DoS) has provided further details on the visa renewal pilot program they had previously announced. Under this system, individuals would be able to renew passport visa stamps in the US without leaving to process through a consulate abroad (and thus risking being stuck abroad in the event of refusal or extended administrative processing.
As now disclosed, the pilot program is far more limited than had been initially hoped. It will be limited to 20,000 applications and run only from January 29, 2024 to May 1, 2024 and will be limited to individuals with expired H-1B visas stamps issued at consulates in Canada or India – and then only where the prior visas were issued between specific dates (between January 1, 2020, and April 1, 2023 for Canada, between February 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021 for India). Only principal H-1B holders are eligible, not family member in H-4 status.
There will be a $205 nonrefundable fee and the application must be initiation online, with materials then physically sent to the DoS. The estimated timeframe is six to eight weeks.
It remains unclear why a pilot is needed, as the DoS did have a system in place to accomplish exactly the goal of the proposed system until the early 2,000s when it was cancelled for reasons that again, remain unclear.