DOS to Announce Pilot Program for Limited Domestic Visa Revalidation

Published: 11/20/2023

Who will qualify for domestic visa revalidation under the pilot program?

It is impossible to know who will qualify for sure until the proposed rule has been officially published in the Federal Register. However, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the State Department has suggested the pilot program will be limited to applicants who meet each of the following criteria:
  • Are a principal H-1B visa holder (meaning that H-4 dependent family members will not qualify);
  • Are a national of a country not subject to reciprocity fees, referring to the additional visa costs imposed on nationals of certain countries to ensure “reciprocity” with the fees charged by their home governments for similar visas;[1] and
  • Meet the requirements for a visa interview waiver. According to DOS’s website, this would include:
Applicants who are renewing a visa within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration; or
Applicants who have never been refused a visa, unless such a refusal was overcome or waived, and have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility.
When will the pilot program go into effect?

Early 2024, according to AILA. 

How many applications will be processed under the pilot program?

DOS is expected to limit the pilot program to only 20,000 applications. By way of comparison, in Fiscal Year 2022, the State Department issued approximately 206,000 H-1B visas worldwide.  While we don’t know how many of those would have qualified for the pilot program, we can infer that the 20,000 applications to be processed represent only a small fraction of the total number of visa applications adjudicated annually. We therefore anticipate that availability will be extremely limited and recommend that anyone intending on participating in the program make alternative plans in case they are ineligible, or their participation is refused.     

When will the proposed rule be published?

We do not presently know when the proposed rule will be published, but, unless an extension is requested, OIRA has only 90 days to complete its review.[2] As such, we expect the proposed rule to be announced by or before mid-January 2024.

Read More: Jdsupra

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