State Department Announces Pilot Program for Domestic Visa Renewal for H-1B and L Visa Holders


In this blog post we share very exciting news for H-1B and L visa holders working in the United States.

The State Department is planning to resume the process of domestic visa revalidation in certain categories, like H-1B and L-1 visas, through the launch of a new pilot program that will soon be implemented later this year, specifically benefitting H-1B specialty occupation workers and L-1 visa holders who are currently required to travel abroad for renewal of their visas.

This move will restore stateside visa renewals, a practice that was previously discontinued by the government in 2004. Previously, certain categories of non-immigrant visa holders, particularly H-1B workers, could renew their visas and be stamped domestically while inside the United States. However, the government stopped allowing domestic renewal of these visas, requiring foreign workers to go out of the country and make an appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country to receive an H-1B extension stamped in their passport.

The pilot program when fully implemented will benefit H-1B and L-1 workers allowing them to receive their stamping inside the United States without having to leave the country. This will help reduce the visa backlogs at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide.

Additionally, the pilot program will potentially benefit tens of thousands of foreign workers, especially technology workers from India, where Consular operations are some of the busiest in the world.

In an interview given to Bloomberg Law, Julie Stufft, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs told reporters, “We all saw during the pandemic how difficult it was for these people to return to their home country and often not be able to get visa appointments to come back to their home, the United States. That’s what we’re trying to address initially with this.”

The stateside renewal option will first be available to H and L visa holders and could eventually be expanded, according to Stufft.

While the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) had been calling for a domestic visa renewal option since the height of the pandemic, Stufft explained that it was difficult to make this a reality because a new consular division had to be established in Washington, D.C. making the pilot program possible.

Only preliminary information has been released thus far, however this is a significant initiative planned by the government that will bring relief to thousands of H-1B technology professionals and L-1 workers working in the United States. Once we have more information about the pilot program, we will provide new updates right here on our blog.

Questions? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-569-1768 or call 619-819-9204.

Helpful Links


Need more immigration updates? We have created a new facebook group to address the impact of the new executive order and other changing developments related to COVID-19. Follow us there.

For other COVID 19 related immigration updates please visit our Immigration and COVID-19 Resource Center here.