In a move that will benefit tens of thousands of foreign tech workers, particularly those from India, the United States plans to resume the process of domestic visa revalidation in certain categories like H-1B and L1 visas on a pilot basis later this year.
Non-immigrant visas, such as the H-1B, could be renewed or stamped inside the United States until 2004. The foreign tech workers must then leave the country, typically back to their home country, to get the H-1B extension stamp in their passport upon renewal.
When the pilot project is fully implemented, stamping for the United States will be easier for professionals. Passports of H-1B visa holders must be stamped with new expiration dates at the time of each renewal. This is necessary for them to leave the United States and return. Restamped H-1B visas are not permitted in the United States at this time.
Any U.S. consulate is the only place where you can get your stamp replaced. Considering the current visa processing time is over 800 days (or over two years), this was a major hassle for both foreign guest workers and their staff.
The highly sought-after H-1B visas are granted for periods of three years. Foreign nationals with theoretical or technical expertise are sought after by American businesses, and the H-1B non-immigrant visa makes this possible.
In response to a question, a State Department spokesperson said, “We cannot comment on how many visa holders would initially be eligible, but the pilot would begin with a small number of cases before scaling over the following 1-2 years.” The Biden administration has taken several measures in recent months to simplify and speed up the visa application process. The State Department appears to have adopted this recommendation from the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.
The current rule, which went into effect in 2004, requires H1-B and L visa holders to return to their home countries in order to have their visas restamped. This can be done in person at a dropbox or through an interview. It can take months, even years, to get an H1-B visa stamped, and in the meantime, applicants are often forced to remain in their home country. The commission appointed by the president had discussed this issue during one of its meetings last year.
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Commission member Ajay Jain Bhutoria of Silicon Valley proposed that US Citizenship and Immigration Services permit restamping of H1-B and L visas in the country (USCIS). The report recommended that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services create a specialised division to stamp H1-B and L visas for renewals within the country. According to the commission, legal immigrants who are invited to work in the United States to support American businesses and the economy have found the entire process to be very trying.