State Department Plans to Issue 20,000 Visas to Foreign Nationals Over Three-Month Period Starting December.
The United States is launching a pilot program for the domestic renewal of certain categories of H-1B visas, set to commence in December, which will notably benefit a substantial number of Indian technology professionals, according to a statement from a US official.
This initiative follows the White House’s announcement of the plan during the state visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June. Julie Stufft, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services, highlighted the high demand for US visas in India and the prolonged wait times, emphasizing the need for expedited visa appointments. The domestic visa renewal program, initially focusing on India, aims to address this concern, starting with 20,000 visas in the first phase, primarily for Indian nationals residing in the US. The program is anticipated to expand over time.
As Indians constitute the largest skilled group of workers in the United States, the official expects India to benefit significantly from the initiative. The program aims to eliminate the necessity for individuals to travel to India or elsewhere for visa renewal appointments, allowing US missions in India to concentrate on new applicants.
The formal announcement of the program was made during Prime Minister Modi’s visit and has been well-received by the Indian community in the US. The State Department will soon release a federal register notice outlining the steps and eligibility criteria for the initial phase of applications.
Stufft clarified that the domestic visa renewal program is specifically for work visas, utilizing an existing regulation that has not been employed for about two decades. The pilot phase, starting with 20,000 cases in December, January, and February, is considered a significant undertaking, with plans to expand to more categories of workers throughout 2024.
Indian-American community leader Ajay Jain Bhutoria, who presented the recommendation for H-1B visa stamping in the USA to the President’s Advisory Commission, expressed satisfaction with the program’s implementation. The initiative is expected to bring relief to over one million H-1B visa holders, a substantial portion of whom are Indian professionals.