Type: Law Bulletins
Date: 12/27/2023

Stateside H-1B Visa Renewal Pilot Begins Jan. 29, 2024

In recent developments in U.S. immigration, the Department of State (DOS) recently published a Federal Register Notice announcing a pilot program focused on streamlining and enhancing the process of renewing H-1B nonimmigrant visas. The pilot program will accept online applications from Jan. 29, 2024 to April 1, 2024.


Federal law authorizes DOS, in its discretion, to issue nonimmigrant visas in the United States to qualified applicants who meet specific criteria. Prior to 2004, DOS had a program in place which allowed for the domestic renewal of non-diplomatic nonimmigrant visas. Because of the passage of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002, which required that U.S. visas include biometric identifiers, DOS discontinued the domestic visa renewal program. The recently announced pilot program will resume domestic visa renewals for H-1B applicants who have previously submitted fingerprints in connection with the application of the prior visa, are eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview requirement, and meet other applicable requirements. The goal of this pilot is to test the DOS’ technical and operational ability to resume domestic visa renewals.

The pilot program will be limited to H-1B applicants renewing a prior H-1B visa issued by Mission Canada with an issuance date from Jan. 1, 2020 through April 1, 2023, or by Mission India with an issuance date from Feb. 1, 2021 through Sept. 30, 2021.

Requirements for Participation

Participation is voluntary and limited to H-1B applicants. H-4 applicants are not eligible.

Participation in the pilot will be limited to H-1B applicants who:

  1. Are seeking to renew an H-1B visa during the pilot phase (1/29/2024- 04/01/2024).
  2. Are renewing a prior H-1B visa issued by:
    1. Mission Canada with an issuance date from 1/1/2020 – 04/01/2023.
    2. Mission India with an issuance date from 02/01/2021 – 09/30/2021.
  3. Are not subject to a nonimmigrant visa issuance (reciprocity) fee.
  4. Are eligible for an in-person interview waiver.
  5. Have submitted ten fingerprints to DOS in connection with the prior visa application.
  6. Prior visa does not include a “clearance received” annotation.
  7. Do not have a visa ineligibility that would require a waiver prior to issuance.
  8. Have an approved and unexpired H-1B petition.
  9. Were most recently admitted to the U.S. in H-1B status.
  10. Are currently maintaining H-1B status in the U.S.
  11. Period of authorized admission in H-1B status has not expired.
  12. Intend to reenter the U.S. in H-1B status after a temporary period abroad.

Participation Procedure

Application Process:

DOS will begin accepting applications starting Jan. 29, 2024. In order to control the number of applications received, DOS will, each week, release approximately 2,000 application slots for applicants whose most recent H-1B visas were issued by Mission Canada, and approximately 2,000 for those whose most recent H-1B visas were issued by Mission India. The application release dates are Jan. 29, 2024, Feb. 5, 2024, Feb. 12, 2024, Feb. 19, 2024, and Feb. 26, 2024.

Once the weekly limits are reached, the online application portal will be locked until the next application release date. The application process will close when all slots are filled, or on April 1, 2024, whichever is sooner.

The application must be completed online via a dedicated domestic visa renewal website. Applicants will be taken through a navigator tool, which will assist applicants in assessing their qualifications for participation in the pilot. After completing the self-assessment, qualified applicants must complete and submit Form DS-160, pay the application processing fee, and mail their passport and other required documents to DOS for processing.


Applications will be adjudicated in the order they are received. Initially, the applications will be evaluated to determine if they meet the requirements of the pilot program. Applications that do not meet the requirement will be returned to the applicant via mail. The application fee will not be returned.

If the application is adjudicated and denied, the applicant may reapply by filing a new visa application at a consular post abroad with a new fee.

Processing Times:

The averaging processing time is expected to be six to eight weeks from the time the passport and documents are received by DOS. DOS expects to complete processing of all applications no later than May 1, 2024.

Taft strives to provide regular updates regarding legal developments impacting clients. Please contact the author of this update with any questions about this pilot program or for additional information.

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