The U.S. State Department has announced plans to bring back a program that could benefit thousands of H-1B and L-1 visa holders. This program, the “Domestic Visa Revalidation,” promises to streamline the visa renewing or stamping of certain non-immigrant visas. It would do so by allowing the renewal or stamping within the U.S.
Previously, this domestic revalidation program became available to non-immigrant workers for renewals. However, in the wake of 9/11, the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act discontinued this program. The legislation eventually returned in May 2002, requiring biometrics for all visas, border crossing identification cards, and Visa Waiver country participation. However, due to the difficulty of collecting digital fingerprints, the program ended in the summer of 2004.
After that, only U.S. consulates could restamp the visas. This change forced foreign national workers on H-1B and other visas to leave the country to get extensions stamped onto their passports. Since the program’s cancellation, rumors floated around about its return, and finally, it may come true. According to a recent news report, the State Department intends to launch a pilot program offering this service later in the year.
The original program served existing visa holders within the E, H, L, O, and P categories. However, the pilot program may start with availability only for the H and L categories. Despite these limited categories, one piece of good news is that the program will also accept initial visa applicants.
This program expects significant benefits for visa applicants, particularly holders of the popular H-1B visa. It would also address the U.S. consulates’ suffering from substantial backlogs. These facilities have attempted to introduce steps to help, such as expanding eligibility for interview waivers and Dropbox submissions. Unfortunately, consulates remained burdened by an enormous backlog of applications. This backlog is primarily due to several years of closures and reduced capacity brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Few details on how the State Department expects to handle the program remain unclear. In addition, information on how many visa holders may become eligible for domestic revalidation also remains uncertain. Regardless, the program significantly eases the renewal process for qualified individuals. Similarly, employers can simplify their hiring process by incorporating an electronic I-9 management tool. This system will guide employers through the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process. It will also ensure complete and accurate forms. Finally, it provides secure storage for the documents and additional documentation.
When it comes to your employees, automation makes eligibility verification quick and simple. Ensure compliance today with I-9 Compliance.