The Biden administration has announced that, as early as this week, the State Department will allow a small number of Indian nationals and other foreign workers on H-1B visas to renew those visas inside the U.S., without having to travel abroad. The plan is part of the State Department’s pilot program aiming to expand stateside visa processing for certain eligible visa holders. This would reduce unnecessary travel and would free up resources for visa interviews at many U.S. consulates abroad.
A spokesperson for the State Department said that the pilot program would begin with a small number of cases with the intention to scale the initiative over the following one to two years, while declining to define “small” or comment on the timing of the pilot launch or which visa types would qualify. Reuters also reports that, according to a source familiar with the initiative, the pilot program would also include some workers with L-1 visas, which are available to intracompany transferees.
If implemented, the proposed pilot program will be particularly beneficial to Indian nationals working in the U.S., who, according to Reuters, made up 73% of the nearly 442,000 H-1B workers in fiscal year 2022, and who have been subject to particularly severe backlogs in visa application appointments at U.S. consulates and embassies in India. It is important to note that the proposed pilot program was first announced in February 2023 and that no action has been taken to date.