Renewing H-1B and L Visas and the Associated Long Wait
Any time you’re dealing with government bureaucracy, you can expect a wait time for processing. However, in India, this wait for H-1B and L visas has been notoriously long, requiring some individuals to wait nearly twenty years for some visa categories.
The extra delay happens when those who are in the US on H-1B and L visas need renewals. As current regulations state, Indian professionals must return to their home country for restamping, which adds strain on already backed-up embassies and consulates and increases the already significant wait times. With so much uncertainty as to when a visa would be renewed, those involved face potential job loss, economic disruption, and separation from their families.
The Pilot Program Could Fix These Issues
Recently, the US and India rolled out a compromise: the pilot program that would permit Indian professionals to renew their visas without leaving America. This collaboration between the US Department of State (DOS) and India was confirmed during Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s visit to the US, but the inception has not become official yet.
The goal of the program is to streamline H-1B and L processing and reduce unnecessary wait times for those who are simply looking to renew their already approved visas. Although circumstances have resulted in delays, the DOS reannounced its commitment to getting the program running soon. When that happens, processing times will be reduced and the overall system will be more efficient, permitting easier travel and fewer disruptions for visa holders.
Although the plan for now is to start the program with India, if the program proves successful, foreign workers from more countries will have the opportunity to renew their visas without leaving the US.
Who Can Renew Their Visas in the US?
Although the work visas are extremely popular, with tens of thousands of new visa recipients each year, they are only valid for a short term. The H-1B visa, for instance, has an initial validity period of three years, with an optional three-year extension that must be completed at the country of origin.
Because the visas will generally expire around the same time, this creates a heavy caseload for certain countries with a high number of renewing applicants. However, some visa holders can avoid this delay and renew in the US if they are under A-1 - 2, G-1 - 4, and NATO-1 - 6 categories.
As hope for a soon-to-be released start date rise, those who need their visas renewed soon must continue to return to their countries of origin. This doesn’t bode well for those looking to travel around the busy holidays, as many borders require a visa to be valid for anywhere from three to six months after the date of entry.
If you have questions about your H-1B visa renewal, the wisest course of action is to contact your immigration attorney. Our professional experts at Visa2US are available 24/7 to guide you through this often confusing transition. Don’t let the holidays and your visa’s expiration date sneak up on you — contact us today to find out how you can renew your visa with minimal disruption to your job and family plans!