Earlier in the year, the Department of State (DOS) planned a Federal Register notice concerning a pilot program for visa renewals. This program would allow the renewal of certain H-1B non-immigrant visas in the United States. However, the notice is still under review by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
The Federal Register notice is the “Pilot Program to Resume Renewal of H-1B non-Immigrant Visas in the United States for Certain Qualified Noncitizens.” Due to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ continued review, the notice is unavailable to the public. However, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) released details about what the program may look like and when it may take effect.
Though limited, the AILA has shed light on the following key details:
Only H-1B visa holders may participate in the domestic renewal program. These holders may revalidate their visas in the U.S. instead of traveling abroad to renew through a consulate. However, the DOS intends to expand the program to include other visa categories. The agency hopes to begin the expansion after establishing and working out issues in the pilot program.
Many hold high hopes for the program, though it is not a new concept for the DOS. The DOS had a similar domestic visa renewal process before discontinuing in 2004. Regardless, reviving the domestic process would benefit employers and visa holders. It could also reduce the ongoing application backlogs many U.S. consulates have struggled to clear. Once the DOS can publish the full notice in the Federal Register, interested parties can access the complete list of eligibility rules.
Until the DOS officially releases the notice, employers should review their policies to ensure compliance with existing immigration regulations. While waiting for the news to appear in the Federal Register, they should prepare for upcoming visa renewals and affected processes. One such process includes employment eligibility verification (Form I-9), which the Immigration Reform and Control Act requires. An electronic management tool can help correctly complete the process by providing step-by-step guidance, digital storage, and reminders of when to take action.
When it comes to your employees, automation makes eligibility verification quick and simple. Ensure compliance today with I-9 Compliance.