The DOS has now introduced a pilot program for the domestic renewal (also known as H-1B stamping informally) of H-1B nonimmigrant visas. The program, running from January 29 to April 1, 2024, aims to test the feasibility of resuming domestic visa renewals and reducing global visa wait times. Eligible applicants can apply online, and written comments are accepted until April 15, 2024. The pilot focuses on H-1B visa renewals issued by Missions Canada or India within specified dates. Participants must meet specific criteria, including a waiver of the in-person interview requirement. The pilot aligns with the government's commitment to improving customer experience and service delivery. Applicants must submit required documents, pay a non-refundable fee, and follow specified procedures for passport and document submission. The Department anticipates completing processing by May 1, 2024, and refusal under specific circumstances may lead to reapplication through overseas embassies or consulates. The primary aim of this initiative is to evaluate the Department's technical and operational capacities, with the potential to alleviate global visa wait times by redistributing certain workloads from overseas posts to locations within the United States. The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services (VO DAS) and their designates wield the discretionary authority to grant nonimmigrant visas, as outlined in 22 CFR 41.111(b)(3). They prescribe the parameters for the domestic renewal pilot, employing a meticulous balance of limitations and criteria to ensure that only deserving individuals gain access to the realm of visa issuance. Participation in this program is restricted to individuals who meet certain specific criteria, including those seeking H-1B visa renewal, holders of specific H-1B visas, those exempt from visa issuance fees, and individuals eligible for an in-person interview waiver, among other criteria. Currently, the program primarily focuses on H-1B applicants, with plans to incorporate additional visa categories. An essential prerequisite for participation is eligibility for a waiver of the in-person interview under section 222(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Fingerprint presence serves as crucial evidence for biometric vetting, ensuring a seamless bureaucratic process. H-1B Visa Renewal Pilot Program Key Takeaways: \tLimited to applicants who hold qualified H-1B visa renewals issued by Embassies from Canada and India only. Prior H-1B visa that is being renewed must have been issued by Mission Canada between January 1, 2020, through April 1, 2023; or by Mission India with an issuance\u2028date of February 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021. \tMust be eligible under the current waiver of the in-person interview requirements and have submitted ten fingerprints to the Department in connection with a previous visa application. \tPrior visa does not include a “clearance received” annotation. Applicants requiring a Department clearance are ineligible for an interview waiver, but such clearance requirements are not public information. Any such requirement would be based on the applicant’s circumstances. Applicants who do not meet the requirements and apply will be rejected and no fees will be refunded. \tHave an approved and unexpired H-1B petition, last entry was in H-1B status and currently still in H-1B status within the U.S. \tH-4 Dependent visas for dependents are not eligible for the pilot program at this time. \tOnce the State Department online portal goes live, starting on Jan 29, 2024, will release approximately 2,000 application slots for qualified applicants each week. Once the weekly limit is reached, the online portal will be locked until the next slots are released for each participating group of Canada and India applications on the next application date. Applicants who are unable to apply on one application date may attempt to apply on any of the remaining application dates during the entry period. \tThe application period for the pilot will close when all application slots are filled or on April 1, 2024, whichever comes first. \tThe average processing time for a domestic visa renewal application is expected to be six to eight weeks from the time that the passport and other required documents are received by the Department. The Department will not consider requests for expedited processing. Background: In 2004, the US Department of State (the DOS) per the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002, implemented a significant measure to suspend the renewal of non-diplomatic nonimmigrant visas within the United States. This decision was prompted by the legislative mandate to integrate biometric identifiers into U.S. visas issued after October 26, 2004. As a result, non-diplomatic visa applicants were directed to undergo fingerprint collection outside the United States, typically facilitated at U.S. embassies, consulates, or designated offsite facilities. Procedures for Renewal Program Application Period: The inaugural event commences on January 29, 2024, with the Department initiating online applications. Application slots are systematically released, with 2,000 slots per week for Mission Canada and Mission India, spanning from January 29 to February 26. The program concludes either upon reaching the limit or on April 1, 2024. Submitting the Application: Qualified Applicants will need to go to this dedicated website from the US Department of State for self-assessment. Please note that this site is not operational as of this writing. The DS-160 form must be meticulously completed, and a ritualistic fee payment of $205.00 is executed through major debit or credit cards, only. Application Processing: The Department discreetly evaluates applications and you can check your status—issuance, refusal, or return of unadjudicated applications - on this portal disclosing the. Passports and documents are submitted via the U.S. Postal Service or a commercial courier for meticulous scrutiny. Required documents: Applicants must assemble and send the following crucial documents: \tA completely filled out DS-160 \tA passport-size photograph \tYour current passport with at least six months of validity \tForm I-797 \tForm I-94 The Fee: A non-refundable Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee of $205.00 needs to be paid via the Department of State portal through major debit or credit cards. Submission and return of documents of documents: Applicants submit their passports and required documents + fee payment as guided by the portal. Issued visas, passports, and other submitted documents will be returned to the applicants via the U.S. Postal Service or a commercial courier. The Department issues a cautionary advisory against submitting renewal applications that are out-of-scope. Visa applications that deviate from H-1B pilot program criteria will be summarily returned without adjudication or refund. Refusals: Section 221(g) of the INA looms over those ineligible for the waiver or failing to meet renewal requirements, prompting the filing of a new DS-160 at an overseas US embassy or consulate. Conclusion: In advancing the customer experience, the Department's pilot program aligns with Executive Order 14058, standing as a beacon of innovation that addresses uncertainties for U.S. companies and temporary workers. This initiative, complementing legislative acts and executive orders, underscores the commitment to a secure and efficient realm of artificial intelligence. As the curtain descends on this bureaucratic saga, the Department extends an invitation to willing participants to engage in the renewal narrative—a story interwoven into the fabric of the United States bureaucratic landscape, with a focus on efficiency, trust, and seamless interaction between government and the governed.