For far too long, the work visa community has struggled with a rule that required them to travel outside of the US to get their visas stamped, even after approval of their petition.
This ruling often led to people who got their visa renewed or changed their visa from one category to another to postpone their travel abroad for a fear of not being able to get their visas stamped in time to return to their work and life in the US.
The problem with this rule really came centerstage during the pandemic when thousands of people found themselves unable to attend to family emergencies back in India, as with the paucity of dates available for interview the stamping process took months.
So, what may come as good news for thousands and thousands of professionals on H-1B, L-1 and some other visas is that the situation may soon be changing.
READ: H-1B visa stamping may soon be allowed inside the US (September 30, 2022)
According to initial announcements, it looks pretty likely that certain visa categories may get their visas without requiring an international travel as early as this summer.
According to reports, the State Department plans to run a pilot program on domestic renewal of work permit visas called PHILEO, named after the categories of visa covered – P, H, I, L, E and O.
Under this program, a new consular division in Washington, DC, will allow nonimmigrant work permit visas, including H-1Bs, to be renewed in the US, instead of them having to travel internationally.
The project looks almost ready to roll out as Nancy Jackson, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the State Department, said during an event earlier this week at the University of Silicon Andhra where Indian American community leaders and entrepreneurs were in attendance, that the pilot project would start by the summer of 2023.
“We are working in earnest on plans to restart this service for certain petition based non-immigrant visa categories and we hope to have the pilot up and running later in summer this year,” she added.
Ajay Bhutoria, Indian American community leader who is on the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders who was part of this event, also tweeted about it Monday.