Big Change In H1B Visa Renewal For Indians: New H1B Visa Pilot Program Rolls Out In US!


Radhika Kajarekar

Radhika Kajarekar

Dec 26, 2023


In a significant development for holders of Indian H-1B visas, the U.S. Department has reintroduced the domestic renewal process for non-diplomatic nonimmigrant visas, a procedure that has been discontinued since 2004.

Big Change In H1B Visa Renewal For Indians: New H1B Visa Pilot Program Rolls Out In US!

US Introduces Changes To H-1B Visa Requirements

This pilot initiative is specifically applicable to Indian and Canadian H-1B principal applicants and to companies whose H-1B employees may need to travel abroad for work, facing the risk of being unable to return immediately if their visa expires.

Nevertheless, the current pilot program addresses these constraints by exclusively catering to individuals who have previously submitted fingerprints and are eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview requirement. The goal of this pilot is to assess the Department’s capacity to resume domestic visa renewals for specific nonimmigrant classifications and to reduce global visa processing times.

Key details for Indian applicants under the H-1B Visa Renewal Pilot Program include:

– The pilot is limited to H-1B visa renewals.

– Eligible visas must have been issued by Mission India between February 1, 2021, and September 30, 2021.

– Applicants should not be subject to a nonimmigrant visa issuance fee.

– Participants must possess an approved, unexpired H-1B petition and be maintaining their H-1B status in the U.S.

– The period of authorized admission in H-1B status should not have expired, and applicants must intend to reenter the U.S. in H-1B status.

Pilot Programme Has Restricted Scope

However, the pilot has a restricted scope, encompassing only H-1B applicants and excluding their dependents. The process of reinstating domestic renewals involves developing standard operating procedures and training staff, which is a time-consuming process currently underway for H-1B adjudications.

Applicants for domestic visa renewal must meet the criteria for a waiver of the in-person interview requirement and have fingerprints on file with the Department for biometric vetting. Notably, residence proof in the United States is not required at the time of application submission.

The fees for the renewal process are nonrefundable, and applicants are required to submit a new application. The Department will start accepting online applications from January 29, 2024, until April 1, 2024, through the official portal: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/employment/domestic-renewal.html. A nonrefundable and non-transferable MRV fee of $205.00 is expected to be paid online by the applicants.

This initiative by the Department aims to alleviate uncertainty for U.S. companies employing temporary workers on petition-based visas and their employees. It aligns with the goals of the Chips and Science Act and Executive Order 14110, emphasizing the development and utilization of artificial intelligence.

The reintroduction of the domestic renewal process is a significant move towards streamlining the visa renewal procedure for Indian H-1B holders, providing a more efficient and user-friendly approach. It’s important to note that participation in the pilot is voluntary, and those who opt not to participate can continue applying for visas overseas.


Radhika Kajarekar
Radhika Kajarekar
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