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Renewal Program for US Work Visas to Start in December, Impacting One Million H-1B Holders

The United States is gearing up to initiate a pilot program next month for the domestic renewal of specific categories of H-1B visas, with a particular focus on benefiting a significant number of Indian technology professionals, as revealed by a senior American official. The program, initially limited to 20,000 participants, follows the announcement made in a US-India joint statement in June. Julie Stufft, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services, emphasized the high demand for US visas in India and the prolonged wait times, expressing the intention to expedite the visa appointment process through the domestic visa renewal program, especially tailored for India. Over three months starting in December, the State Department plans to issue 20,000 visas to foreign nationals already within the country.

The program, first disclosed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US state visit, aims to streamline the renewal process for Indian nationals residing in the US, avoiding the need to travel back to India or elsewhere for visa appointments. With Indians constituting the largest skilled group of workers in the US, the program is anticipated to have a significant impact and relieve the burden on applicants. The official process, as outlined by Stufft, involves mailing the visa application from the United States to Washington, where it will be processed and returned to the applicant without the necessity of international travel. The upcoming federal register notice will provide detailed instructions and eligibility criteria for the initial 20,000 cases.

The domestic visa renewal program is exclusively for work visas, constituting an existing regulation that has not been utilized for approximately two decades. Describing it as a substantial undertaking, Stufft expressed excitement about the pilot program and the prospect of expanding it to more categories of workers in the United States in 2024. The move has been recognized as significant by Indian-American community leader Ajay Jain Bhutoria, who expects it to have a positive impact on over one million H-1B holders, a considerable number of whom are Indians. Bhutoria expressed gratitude to President Biden, the State Department, and the AANHPI Commission for implementing the recommended relief for H-1B holders. He also reaffirmed his commitment to advocating for policy changes addressing issues such as the country cap, green card backlog, and EAD for approved I-140 with a backlog for aged-out children.

Source: MSN