As many of you know, if you want to apply for a US Visa renewal, you need to exit America and get the US Visa Stamping done either in your home country or another country that allows third-country nationals to get stamping in their country. Due to long visa appointment wait times across the world, including India, there has been a push by many to solve this issue and get the US Visa stamping within the US without leaving the country.
In this article, we will cover the latest news on getting your US Visa stamping within the US and the recent update from the US Department of State, including the announcement by The White House from June 2023 on the pilot program to get H1B visa renewals within the US.
Before we get into the news of getting US Visa stamping within America, let’s quickly look at the history of the same on how it looked in the past.
Background: US Visa Stamping with USA was discontinued in 2004
Below is a brief background of getting US Visa Stamping within the USA:
- In the past, until 2004, the US Department of State was doing US Visa Stamping within the US for renewals of various visa types such as C, E, H, I, L, O, and P.
- This provision of domestic (meaning within the USA) US visa re-issuance or renewal was originally intended to provide services to foreign government officials and international organizations’ employees.
- Eventually, this service of renewal of a US visa was extended to everyone residing in the US and extended to multiple visa types such as C, E, H, I, L, O, and P. This was available until mid-2004.
Why did the domestic visa issuance( US Visa renewal within the USA) get discontinued?
US Department of State announced on June 23, 2004, that they would discontinue the service of getting US Visa stamping within the USA starting from July 16th, 2004. Below are the main reasons for the discontinuation of the domestic visa re-issuance:
- The US Visa interview requirements changed with the Public Law 107- 173, which enhances the border security of the USA.
- As per the new requirements from the new law’s section 303, they needed to collect biometrics for the applicants in the United States(US) itself.
- Back in 2004, they said that the US Department of State did not have the facilities, and it was not feasible for them to collect biometrics for applicants within the US. This is the main reason for discontinuing the US Visa stamping for renewals within the USA.
- Below is the screenshot of the official regulation from the federal register that confirms the same.
Now that you have some background on why it was discontinued let’s get the latest news and updates on introducing US Visa stamping within America.
US Dept of State to run pilot program to renew H1B Visas within USA
The idea of getting a US Visa Stamping within the US was first shared in an interview by Bloomberg Law with Julie Strufft from the US Dept of State in February 2023. In that interview, she mentioned that they plan to run a pilot program later in 2023 to test out the US Visa renewals option within the US. Below are the key takeaways from the interview
- The US Department of State is planning to run a pilot program to test out stateside/ domestic US Visa renewals in later part of 2023. When they say ‘stateside’ or ‘domestic’, it means ‘within the US’. Meaning, the US Visa stamping will be done within the US.
- The pilot program to renew US visas within the US will be targeted mainly at H1B Visa and other temporary visa holders.
- They will primarily focus on H and L Visa applicants (H1B, H4, L1, L2 visas) and later they will expand to other visa types.
On June 22nd, 2023, the same news of a pilot program to get US Visa stamping within the US was shared in the “Joint Statement from the US and India” released by The White House. This was announced in conjunction with the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s visit to the US. This is the first official news confirming the same and released by the US Govt.
Below is the summary of the press briefing by the White House:
- The pilot program(initial test run) for domestic US Visa Stamping for renewals will happen later this year(2023).
- The pilot will be expanded to more H1B and L visa holders in 2024 for US Visa Stamping within the US for renewals.
- There are no specific dates given by the US State Department yet on when this will start.
- Below is the screenshot of the official news from the White House website. You can also check the Official Press release from The White House
Why are they introducing or testing the pilot program to renew US visas within the USA
- By restoring the previous program of domestic/ stateside visa renewals, they plan to save applicants the need to travel out of the country just for visa stamping and also reduce the long wait times for US visa appointments and processing times at consular offices that are outside of the US.
- They say they saw all the challenges many applicants faced during the pandemic to get an appointment in their home country and how many got stuck within the US. This program will help solve some of those issues and give more options for users staying in the US.
- Many trade organizations, immigration lawyers, and business groups have raised concerns and shared their experiences on challenges that their clients or employees are facing due to the long wait times at the US Consulates abroad. All of these have urged the US Dept. of State to re-introduce domestic visa renewals for anyone living in the US.
- They said that one of the main reasons they could not set up this service last year was due to the challenges of setting up a consular division in Washington D.C. as it is not a small task for them.
Next Steps – What to Expect?
Now that we have an official update from the White House that the domestic US Visa Stamping for the renewals would happen later this year, it is much more clear that they will do the pilot this year.
In the upcoming months, we expect that the US Department of State Website or the US Consulates/Embassy websites will share additional details on when the pilot would start.
We do not exactly know, how this whole pilot would work and what the process is for the same. We are yet to hear the official news and plan from the US Dept of State as well.
We will keep this page updated as new details emerge. Stay tuned for updates on this page.
News Updates on US Visa Stamping within USA
September 2023: As of September 2023, there is no new update on when they will implement the program. We are all waiting for the same. We will update this page as we have more info.
June 24, 2023: A joint statement from the US and India was released by The White House that officially confirm that the pilot for domestic US Visa Stamping for renewals would happen later this year. The previous update from February 2023 was released by Bloomberg News, and nothing official was updated by the US Dept of State. You can check the Official Press release from The White House.
Also, the same information was updated at AILA Conference in Orlando. No specific details were given on the dates on when this will actually happen.
June 22, 2023: There are rumors circulated in the Indian media outlets such as NDTV stating that there could be an announcement coming soon regarding the stamping of H1B Professionals within the US very soon. This is triggered based on discussions by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the US and his discussions with the US administration. Below is a screenshot of the same and a reference link to the same.
There is no official update from US Department of State or any other official news source on the same. We will keep you posted, if any updates.
February 10, 2023: Bloomberg News Reports that US Department of State plans for running a pilot later part of the year, 2023, to have domestic visa renewals for applicants living in the US. Below is the screenshot of the news from Bloomberg. You can check the news a Bloomberg Law News – State Department Pilot for Visa Renewals
Not yet. Currently, we only know that there are plans for a pilot program. We do not know when this will start and what the official process is. We need to wait.
Not yet. The above-mentioned pilot program is mainly focused on H and L visa holders. We do not have the details yet on when it will start. Stay tuned for updates.
No. USCIS does not issue any visa stampings. They only issue approval notices to extend or change status. They are not authorized to issue US visas. Their focus is mainly on US Visa Status and extending them and not US visa stampings. If you do not know the difference, you may read US Visa vs. Status in USA to know more.
We do not know the specifics of the US Visa stamping within the US yet. The plan from the US Department of State is to set up an office for Consular Services in Washington D.C.. We will know more as details emerge. Until then, we need to wait.
So far, we do not have any official date given by the US Dept of State. It is said to be in later part of the year 2023. We need to wait to know more.
Overall, it is fantastic news for many waiting for US Visa stampings. It will solve many issues with US Visa Appointments delays and make life easier for many. What do you think of this news? Share your feedback in the comments section below.