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Details of Domestic Visa Renewal Program Released

If you are in the United States with a domestic visa, you may have heard about the domestic visa renewal pilot program. This is a program released in December 2023 that applies to people using a domestic visa who are seeking a renewal. In this article, we will discuss what this program includes and who can take advantage of it.

What is the Domestic Visa Renewal Program?

The domestic visa renewal program is a resurrected process that was discontinued in 2004. Its original purpose was to allow eligible applicants to renew their H-1B visa in the US without having to go to the United States consulate.

This renewal program is in full effect from January 29, 2024, to April 24, 2024. The program is also limited to 20,000 H-1B visa applications, so applicants who want to take advantage of it will have to act fast.

During the pilot period, 2,000 application slots will be released each week for different visa holders. Once the 2,000 application limit is reached each week, the application website will be closed until the next slot release date. So, if you go to fill out an application and the option isn’t available, you will need to wait until the following 2,000 applications become available.

It’s also important to remember that the expected processing time for domestic visa renewal applications is around 6 to 8 weeks from when the DOS receives the necessary documents for processing. If you require domestic visa renewal sooner than this, you may need to look into other options.

Domestic Visa Renewal Program Eligibility

As with any kind of visa program, applicants must meet specific eligibility requirements to have their domestic visa renewed. Failure to meet any of these requirements can result in a visa refusal. Depending on the reason for refusal, the DOS can also allow applicants to correct documents or submit additional information by April 15, 2024.

Keep in mind that the DOS is not required to refund any fees for applications that are returned or refused through the domestic visa renewal pilot program.

Here are the eligibility requirements applicants must meet to have their domestic visa renewed:

  • Applicants with H-1B visa classification.
  • Applicants who are not subject to a non-immigrant visa issuance fee.
  • Applicants who are eligible for a waiver from the in-person interview requirement.
  • Applicants who intend to re-enter the United States after a temporary period abroad with a H-1B status.
  • Applicants who do not have an expired authorization admission in H-1B status.
  • Applicants who have submitted ten fingerprints connected with a previous visa application.
  • Applicants who do not have a prior visa that includes clearance received annotation.
  • Applicants most recently admitted into the US with an H-1B status who are currently maintaining that status.
  • Applicants who do not require a waiver before visa issuance due to visa and eligibility.
  • Applicants who have an approved and unexpired H-1B petition.

How to Renew Your Domestic Visa

If you meet all of the eligibility requirements for the domestic visa renewal program, you can proceed to apply for a visa renewal. To do this, you need to access the domestic visa renewal website specifically set up for this purpose. At the website, you must answer a series of questions that will help ensure you meet the eligibility requirements before submitting an application.

Here is the step-by-step process you need to take when submitting your application:

  • Complete the form DS-160 online.
  • Pay the $205 MRV fee through the online portal.
  • Follow the instructions when submitting your passport and application documents.

The DOS requires applicants to submit their documents through the US Postal Service or a commercial courier service. This includes submitting an up-to-date photograph and a passport valid for at least six months, allowing you to travel in the US, the original or a copy of your form I-797 and the original or a copy of your form I-94.

Failure to submit any of these necessary documents can result in your application being rejected, or you may have to correct your application before April 15 for it to be processed.

Common Questions About the Domestic Visa Renewal Program

Even though the domestic visa pilot program is quite straightforward, there is still plenty of room for confusion. Understanding how this process works and what is required will help you eliminate the risk of having your application rejected. Hiring an immigration attorney is also helpful since they can assist you in navigating immigration law and the renewal application process.

Can I Expedite My Application?

If you are in a rush to renew your domestic visa, you may want to pay a fee to expedite your application. Unfortunately, this is not an option, as all applications will be handled on a first-received, first-processed basis. If you urgently need to travel and use your visa, you can apply for a visa at the US embassy or consulate overseas.

On average, it is expected to take 6 to 8 weeks for each applicant before their application is completely processed and accepted.

What Happens If My Application Is Refused?

Because participating in the domestic visa renewal program is voluntary, there are no serious consequences if your application is refused. If you are ineligible or fail to provide the requirements, your application will be returned or refused. If this is the case, you can file a new application at the US embassy or consulate overseas.

How Do I Prove That I Intend to Re-enter the US In H-1B Status?

To be approved for this pilot program, you have to re-enter the US in H-1B status after a temporary period abroad. It’s not required that you submit evidence regarding this intent, but more information may be requested on a case-by-case basis.

Contact a Qualified Immigration Lawyer Today

Do you want to get the process started for renewing your domestic visa through the domestic visa renewal pilot program? Contact us today at US Immigration Law Counsel by filling out our online form or calling us at 800-664996. Our immigration lawyers deal with the government, so you don’t have to!