USCIS has announced it will resume the process of renewing certain categories of domestic visas, including the highly sought-after H-1B visa, popular among skilled IT workers from India and China. This decision comes as a relief to many visa holders who were previously required to leave the United States to renew their visas. If you are an IT worker, read on and reach out to a seasoned New York immigration lawyer from the Lightman Law Firm to learn more about the recent change to applying for domestic visa renewals and how it may impact you. Here are some of the questions you may have:
What IT workers can apply for domestic visa renewals?
If you are an IT worker in the United States and are here on an H-1B visa, an L-1 visa, or certain other petition-based nonimmigrant work visas, you likely will qualify for a domestic visa renewal. Notably, this is only a pilot program set to begin this year; at some point, USCIS has plans to allow domestic visa renewals for all visa holders. Since 2004, domestic renewals were suspended here in the United States, so this is a welcome change for those looking to renew H-1B visas after their initial three-year period is up, as well as other types of petition-based nonimmigrant work visas.
Why the change now?
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we live our lives, and as a result, brought with it a great deal of immigration reform. During the pandemic, people were finding themselves stuck in their home countries without having a way to return to the United States due to flight delays, lockdowns, etc. Backlogs were also common due to staffing issues, high demand, and more. As a result, immigration officials began rethinking various aspects of how they conduct business, and one of those changes is implementing domestic visa renewals.
Are there any other upcoming H-1B visa changes?
There are. Likely, the current administration will extend the visa grace period to 180 days from 60 days for H-1B workers who’ve lost their jobs. This is a huge help, as anyone who loses their job will only have 60 days to find a new job that meets H-1B standards. Having more time to find a new job, file paperwork to change their sponsorship status, and receive approval to remain in the United States from USCIS would certainly come as welcome news.
If you have any further questions about this recent update or any potential future updates, or you need help obtaining a work visa or renewing one, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Lightman Law Firm today.