US Program Could Permit Visa Holders to Renew in US

    26 October 2023

    The U.S. State Department is working on a test program that would permit some work visa holders to renew their documents in the United States.

    The pilot program would involve holders of H-1B visas. This kind of visa permits highly skilled foreigners to enter the U.S. for work purposes for at least three years.

    Currently, H-1B visa holders are required to travel to an American diplomatic office outside the U.S. to seek renewals

    FILE - A visa application center of VFS Global is seen in Istanbul, Turkey, Aug. 25, 2022.
    FILE - A visa application center of VFS Global is seen in Istanbul, Turkey, Aug. 25, 2022.

    A State Department spokesperson told VOA the pilot program aims to improve "the uncertainty often experienced by U.S. companies" that temporarily employ H-1B workers. The official communicated by email. The official spoke to VOA on the condition that they not be identified.

    The official said that the State Department would judge whether the policy change would improve the availability and speed of visa approvals worldwide.

    Immigration lawyers have long urged the administration of President Joe Biden to bring back U.S. visa renewals that were ended in 2004. They say the current renewal process can make it difficult for U.S.-based foreign employees to get appointments at U.S. diplomatic offices abroad. And the travel linked to those appointments can be very costly.

    The spokesperson said the State Department is hoping to begin accepting renewal documents by the end of this year. The program is to begin with officials inviting a small number of visa holders to take part.

    But the spokesperson said the program must first go through a rule-making process, which will start at the White House. Once those rules are decided, the State Department will seek public comments and consider any necessary changes. The proposal will then go back to the White House for final review.

    I'm Bryan Lynn.

    Aline Barros reported this story for VOA News. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for Learning English.


    Words in This Story

    renew – v. to arrange to continue an official agreement that is set to end soon

    uncertainty – adj. not sure or not able to decide about something