US to Allow H-1B And L1 Holders to Renew Visas Without Leaving Country

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The United States State Department has announced plans to launch a pilot programme that will allow some work visa holders to renew their visas without leaving the country (Domestic Visa Revalidation).

With this, employees on H-1B or L-1 visas in the United States will be able to renew their status domestically under the programme, which is set to launch later this year.

H-1B and L-1 Visas

H-1B visas are popular in the tech industry and are intended for foreigners with college degrees working in high-skilled occupations. On the other hand, L-1 visas are used by foreign managers whose companies transfer them to the US.

What is the difference between H-1B and L1A?

An H1B visa holder can stay for six years, whereas an L1A visa holder can stay for seven years and an L1B visa holder can stay for five years. There is the possibility of extending the stay on an H1B visa for an additional six years; however, no such extension is available for any L1 visa holder.

Also Read: US to Increase Fees for H-1B, EB-5 Visa Application: Check Proposed Fees Here

Impact of Layoffs on the Tech Industry

The pilot programme comes at a time when layoffs have hit the tech industry hard, particularly for H-1B visa holders. It is estimated that the recent layoffs have affected tens of thousands of foreign workers.

However, the visa renewal pilot programme will not apply to laid-off H-1B workers, who must leave the United States after 60 days if they are unable to find new employment or transfer to another visa.

Support from Business Groups and Immigration Lawyers

Business groups and immigration lawyers have been advocating for years for the State Department to allow such visa holders, who have already been vetted to enter the US, to complete renewals domestically.

Jon Baselice, Vice President of Immigration Policy at the US Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the announcement of the pilot program and said it would help reduce bottlenecks abroad.

Domestic Visa Renewals were Discontinued in 2004

Domestic visa renewals were discontinued in 2004 due to security concerns following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. State Department officials have indicated that reintroducing the service will be a heavy lift, as they will need to hire new consular officers in Washington and set up new systems.


The pilot program for domestic renewals of H-1B and L-1 visas is a welcome development for work-visa holders in the US and is expected to help reduce visa interview delays, which have caused a significant amount of disruption for businesses of all sizes and across a range of industries.

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