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State-side visa stamping steps and guidance

The highly anticipated guidance rules for state-side visa stamping was released on Dec 20, 2023.  This will be a pilot program for H1B visas only with 20,000 visas only. Therefore, it is important to understand all the details. 

When does the application window open?

  • The window will open on January 29th, 2024
  • There will be weekly openings for about 2000 application slots available. 
  • The dates to file:
    • January 29th
    • February 5
    • February 12
    • February 19
    • February 26

Who can apply?

  • Only those who were issued H1B visas from Mission Canada or Mission India, and who need to renew their visas can apply. 
  • If you are from India, then your visa must have been renewed by Mission India with an issuance date of date of February 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021
  • Are eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview requirement; 
  • Have submitted ten fingerprints to the Department in connection with a previous visa application; 
  • Prior visa does not include a “clearance received” annotation; 
  • Do not have a visa ineligibility that would require a waiver prior to visa issuance; 
  • Have an approved and unexpired H-1B petition; 
  • Were most recently admitted to the United States in H-1B status; 
  • Are currently maintaining H-1B status in the United States; 
  • Period of authorized admission in H-1B status has not expired; and 
  • Intend to reenter the United States in H-1B status after a temporary period abroad. 

What is the application process?

  • You will apply here: 
  • First complete self-assessment questions to prove their are eligible for stateside renewal
  • Then submit the Form DS-160 and pay fees of $205.00 through their online portal with a debit or credit card. 
  • After paying the fee and submitting the form, you will be given information about where to send the passport and required documents
    • Documents include:
  1. One photograph
  2. Valid passport- must be valid for at least six months beyond the visa application date
  3. Original or copy of the current I-797 (approval notice)
  4. Original or copy I-94

When and how will I receive my visa stamp?

  • It will take 6-8 weeks to process the visas. 
  • The passport with the stamp will be mailed back to the applicant through USPS. 
  • The Department of State hopes to complete all application processing by May 1st, 2024. 

What about my spouse and children?

This is a pilot program. That means, the administration is testing something new and needs to ensure their processes and systems will work. I am confident that should this work, the Department of State may expand the usage of this new process. 

What can I do to prepare?

I would suggest you review the above and ensure you are eligible. If you are eligible, collate the documents listed above. Calendar the dates listed above so you can be one of the first people to apply as I expect the 2000-application slots per week to fill up quickly. And, finally, share the information with anyone who needs to know this. 

If you are successful in receiving the visa stamp, please do let me know. It is important to report good news and let the DOS know about the success of the program. It is anticipated that a successful program will lead to the expansion of the program soon which will be in the interest of your family members, friends, and colleagues.  

We will everyone the best of luck! Feel free to send questions to our team at Watson Immigration Law at [email protected] or 206-292-5237.