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India Seeks Permanent Update To H1B Visa Renewal Process

India has requested that a new pilot scheme aiming to simplify the H-1B visa renewal process be made permanent moving forward

Mon Jan 15 2024

India has sent a request to the US government to establish a permanent system for H-1B Visa renewals which would simplify the process for the many visa holders currently in the country, many of whom are business school grads often working in the tech sector. 

The H-1B visa is a coveted route into employment in the US for international students. Successful H-1B visa applicants gain the opportunity to stay in the US and work for a sponsoring company for three years after completing a higher education degree, with an option to extend for a further three years after it expires. 

As of January 29th 2024, the US State Department is trialling a scheme allowing H-1B Visa holders in the US to renew their visas domestically, rather than returning to an embassy or consulate in their home country as had been required previously. 

The scheme largely affects Indian nationals and is currently limited to 20,000 visa holders. It is only available to principal H-1B visa holders, meaning that their family members—who are allowed in the US under an H-4 visa which signifies dependency on an H-1B visa holder—cannot benefit from the scheme. 

However, during a recent India-US Trade Policy Forum held in New Delhi, Indian officials requested that the change be made permanent. Officials also requested that the family members of H-1B visa holders be added to the scheme. 

“For H-1B renewal visas, stamping has begun in the US on a pilot basis and we have asked them to make it permanent and for family members also,” an official told the Economic Times. 

Updates to the H-1B visa renewal process come amid broader proposed changes to the entire H-1B process that could have a large impact on international students aiming to remain in the US after graduation. 

The proposed changes include strengthened integrity measures and streamlined eligibility requirements.