According to reports, the Department of State (DOS) plans to launch a pilot program later this year to allow visa renewals in the United States for H and L nonimmigrant workers who currently must leave the country to renew their visas at consular offices abroad. The program could expand eventually.
Practitioners say such a policy, which was in place until 2004, would help to relieve backlogs and lengthy wait times abroad, and reduce the burden on consular offices and visa holders. The program is expected to benefit tens of thousands of foreign tech professionals in the United States on H-1B visas, among others.
The timeframe for the pilot program remains unclear. It appears that new regulations would not be required, but a new consular division in Washington, DC, would be needed. “That’s not a small endeavor,” said Julie Stufft, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs.