On December 21, 2023, the Department of State announced that it will be launching a pilot program to resume renewals of H-1B nonimmigrant visas in the United States for certain qualified foreign nationals. Prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, mail-in visa revalidation was routinely available. That program ended in 2004 due to security enhancements in the wake of 9/11. Stateside visa revalidation is now being reintroduced as a way to reduce lengthy visa appointment wait times following consular closures during the coronavirus pandemic. Because the Department of State has no mechanism to collect fingerprints from applicants in the U.S., visa revalidation will be limited to those who have previously been ten-printed by a U.S. Consulate abroad.

The pilot program will be limited to a small group of individuals who meet the following requirements:

  1. Are seeking to renew an H–1B visa that was issued by a U.S. Consulate in Canada with an issuance date from January 1, 2020, through April 1, 2023; or by a U.S. Consulate in India with an issuance date of February 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021;
  2. Are not subject to a nonimmigrant visa issuance fee (Note: this is commonly referred to as a “reciprocity fee”);
  3. Are eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview requirement.
  4. Have submitted ten fingerprints to the Department of State in connection with a previous visa application;
  5. Prior visa does not include a “clearance received” annotation;
  6. Do not have a visa ineligibility that would require a waiver prior to visa issuance;
  7. Have an approved and unexpired H–1B petition;
  8. Were most recently admitted to the United States in H–1B status;
  9. Are currently maintaining H–1B status in the United States;
  10. Period of authorized admission in H–1B status has not expired; and
  11. Intend to reenter the United States in H–1B status after a temporary period abroad.

The pilot program will run from January 29, 2024 to April 1, 2024. Applications must be submitted online.

The Department of State will only release about 2,000 appointment slots per week during the pilot period. That period will be used to assess the feasibility of the program and the plan is to expand it to additional people slowly as the Department of State has capacity to process the applications.

The Harris Beach Immigration Law Practice Group includes immigration attorneys that work across New York State in our Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Long Island, New York City, Rochester and Syracuse offices. Our immigration lawyers focus on strategies – including immigrant visas for permanent U.S. resident status and temporary visas for foreign nationals – to ensure that companies are able to hire, transfer, and retain the brightest and best non-U.S. talent. If you have questions about this subject or related matters, please reach out to attorney Danielle M. Rizzo at (716) 200-5149 and drizzo@harrisbeach.com, or the Harris Beach attorney with whom you most frequently work.

This alert is not a substitute for advice of counsel on specific legal issues.

Harris Beach has offices throughout New York state, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Long Island, New York City, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse and White Plains, as well as Washington D.C., New Haven, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey.