US to Resume “Domestic Visa Revalidation” for H-1B and L-1 Visa Holders


Samarpita Goswami
Updated on Feb 13, 2023 12:50 PM IST

The US has planned to renew H-1B and L-1 visas within the US to facilitate the revalidation process. At present, the candidates are required to travel back to their home country to get their visas re-stamped. This move will prove to be a boon for Indians in the USA looking to renew or re-stamp their visas.

US to Resume “Domestic Visa Revalidation” for H-1B and L-1 Visa Holders

Thousands of foreign tech workers who are on L1 and H-1B visas could potentially benefit from the 'domestic visa revalidation' which the US is planning to resume in specific categories on a pilot basis with a goal to scale it in the future.

This move is set to be launched in the latter half of this year. The project when implemented will help Indian technology professionals working in the US breathe a sigh of relief. 

H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa through which US companies hire foreign workers in speciality fields like technology and engineering.  On the other hand, L-1A and L-1B  visas are issued when employers file a petition to gain authorisation for employees to be allowed to live and work in the USA. While there is a cap of 80,000 employees per year on H-1B visas there is no cap on L1 visas.

Also Read: Online Petition Filed for 12-Month Grace Period Extension on H-1B Visa

Earlier till 2004,  these visas could be stamped and renewed inside the USA. After that, to renew these visas, especially those on H-1B visas, foreign workers have to go out of the country, mostly to their home countries to get the stamp of  H-1B extension on their passports. This is required if they wish to travel outside and re-enter the USA. At present, the visa restamping process cannot be done inside the US. It can be done only at a US consulate.

This process causes inconvenience to foreign professionals who need to return to their home country to complete the renewal process. It is also a loss for employers who lose the labour force for an extended period of time.

The proposed move will allow foreign workers to continue work while their visa gets renewed and restamped. Initially, a few cases will be eligible for stateside visa revalidation, over the next two years, the system will be scaled.

A State Department spokesperson commented that he cannot guarantee how many visa holders will be eligible in the initial stage but the pilot project will begin with a small number of cases and will be scaled in the next few years. This will eliminate the necessity of moving abroad to renew visas.

 The visa wait time is now generally between 800 days and 2 years. Experts say that the waiting time has skyrocketed because of staff shortages at the embassies, a spike in tourist visas, pent-up visa applications from students and professionals and strict guidelines around visa renewal.

For the past few months, the Biden government is taking several steps to streamline the visa process while reducing inconvenience. This recommendation was given by the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. The commission recommended US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) establish a separate department or unit to handle restamping and renewal of H-1B and L-1 visas within the USA.

Also Read: 68% Jump in Indian Student Population Going Abroad in 2022

The commission feels that the whole process is painful for legal immigrants who have been invited to the US to contribute to its companies and economy.

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Source: Indian Express and NDTV

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