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DHS to Pilot Expedited H-1B Renewals

About 20,000 H-1B specialty visa holders will be able to renew their documents by mail in the U.S. as soon as January, according to Bloomberg.

What’s going on: “The stateside visa renewal pilot program is one of multiple measures the State Department is looking to add or continue with the aim of driving down wait times for travel to the U.S., officials told reporters Monday.”

  • In addition to renewing the limited number of H-1B domestic visas, the State Department will also expand waivers for certain temporary visas and grant digital visas for travel to the U.S.

Why it’s important: The pilot program will “allow those H-1B holders to renew their visas by mailing them to the State Department rather than travel outside the U.S. and face uncertain wait times to secure an appointment at a U.S. consular office before returning.”

  • It could help reduce some of the backlogs for travel to the U.S., which have persisted in Mexico, Colombia and India following the pandemic.
  • The program is still under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget but is expected to expand to include more participants.

Specifics to follow: Details, such as how pilot-program participants will be selected, should be available in a Federal Register notice set to be published next month. 

The last word: “Job openings in manufacturing are highly technical, and workers require specialized skills training and credentials to qualify for many of them,” said NAM Director of Domestic Policy Julia Bogue.

  • “These changes to ease renewal of H-1B visas will help manufacturers retain a diverse set of workers with technical backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math.”
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