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Pilot programme for domestic renewal of H-1B visa start: What it is and why it is good news for Indian IT professionals – Times of India


A pilot program that will permit certain H-1B visa holders to renew their H-1B visas within the United States (US) has been cleared by the Office of Management and Budget(OMB) – the executive office of President Biden. The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
What this approval means
This approval puts the pilot program a step closer to implementation. The domestic visa renewal programme is only for work visas. While stamping within the US was permitted earlier, it was discontinued from July 16, 2004, owing to various security related requirements, such as collection of biometrics. The Department of State had said that it was not feasible for them to collect biometrics for applicants from within the US.
Why is this good news for Indian IT professionals
The move is expected to benefit many Indian technology professionals already in the US. Under the pilot clearance by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) review on December 15, the qualified H-1B visa applicants will not have to travel abroad to renew the work visa.
In November, Julie Stufft, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services, said, “In India, the demand (for US visas) is still very high. The wait time of six, eight and 12 months is not what we need and (it is) not indicative of how we view India.” “We want to make sure that Indian travellers can get appointments as quickly as possible. One way we are doing that is through the domestic visa renewal programme, which is focused very much on India. We are piloting that,” she said.
Over three months, beginning in December, the State Department will be issuing 20,000 visas to foreign nationals who are already inside the country. “We will do 20,000 in the first group. The vast majority of those will be Indian nationals living in the US and we will expand as it goes on.
“Because Indians are the largest skilled group of workers in the United States, we hope that India will benefit quite a bit from this programme and it will prevent people from having to travel back to India or anywhere for a visa appointment to get their visa renewed. It will allow our missions in India to concentrate on new applicants,” Stufft told PTI last month. The US Department of State has also publicly stated that it plans to expand the pilot program, to cover H-4 visa holders and other non-immigrant visa categories in 2024 and beyond.


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