Department of State Announces U.S. Visa Revalidation Pilot Program

In a recent interview with Bloomberg Law, a representative for the Department of State announced that the agency plans to launch a pilot program in 2023 offering visa renewal options in the United States for H and L visa holders who currently are required to travel abroad to renew their visas.

Foreign workers who travel abroad cannot reenter the United States without a valid visa stamp. As such, foreign workers who travel abroad must schedule and attend an appointment at a consulate abroad to renew their visa stamps. Countries such as India, the largest source of H-1B visa applicants and holders, have appointment wait times of more than six months, according to the Department of State’s website. This waiting period has resulted in many visa holders stuck abroad, adding disruptions for both the employee and employer.

Restoring domestic visa renewals, which were discontinued in 2004, will remove the requirement that applicants leave the country and, in turn, will likely reduce the workload and backlog of consular offices and appointments abroad. Additionally, first-time visa applicants who are required to attend a visa appointment at consular offices abroad would likely benefit due to reduced backlogs and wait times.

The pilot program is anticipated to roll out later in 2023, with the stateside renewal option first available to H and L visa holders with possible eventual expansion to other temporary visa holders. Our Immigration and Nationality team is closely following any developments in visa processing from the Department of State and will provide updates as developments occur.