Washington: The United States is set to roll out a pilot program for the domestic renewal of certain categories of H-1B visas, benefiting a considerable number of Indian technology professionals, as announced by a US official. The initiative, previously mentioned during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US in June, is aimed at streamlining visa appointments and reducing wait times.
In an interview with news agency PTI, Julie Stufft, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services, highlighted that the high demand for US visas in India has led to extended wait times, which is not in alignment with their views on India. The pilot program, set to commence in December, will involve issuing 20,000 visas to foreign nationals already present within the US.
The program primarily targets Indian nationals living in the US, allowing for visa renewal without requiring travel back to India or elsewhere for appointments. This initiative aims to optimize missions in India to focus on new applicants, providing convenience to skilled workers in the US.
The State Department will soon issue a federal register notice outlining the program’s steps and eligibility criteria for the initial phase. Ms. Stufft emphasized that visa processing under this program will be done within the United States, eliminating the need for travel to other countries for visa renewals.
Furthermore, the program exclusively caters to work visas, intended for long-term residents in the US seeking visa renewal without leaving the country. The pilot program commencing in December will undergo a trial phase until February, and the goal is to expand its scope to include more categories of workers residing in the US in the later part of 2024.
Indian-American community leader Ajay Jain Bhutoria lauded the move by the State Department, mentioning its significance in impacting over a million H-1B holders, a substantial proportion of whom are Indian. He expressed gratitude to President Biden, the State Department, and other officials for implementing this recommendation, aiming to relieve burdens for legal immigrants and promote inclusive policies in society.
Inputs by PTI Agency.