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US State Department's H-1B visa renewal pilot excludes dependents, raising concerns for families

The US State Department's new pilot initiative for renewing H-1B visas in the United States will not cover the dependents of H-1B professionals. This decision might have adverse effects on H-1B visa holders with families residing in the US.

Regarding the potential inclusion of dependents in the program, Julie Stufft, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, mentioned to reporters after the programme's announcement, as reported by Bloomberg Law remarked, "We must establish its effectiveness before considering expansion to a wider audience. This represents a significant shift for individuals residing here, who would have previously been obliged to depart the United States."

While many H-1B employees can renew their visas without leaving the country under this programme, there have been appeals from business organisations and their constituents to include H-4 dependents. They advocate for the expansion of the pilot to encompass spouses and children, ensuring they aren't left in a challenging situation.

The H-1B visa renewal pilot programme is designed to enable a select number of H-1B speciality occupation workers in the US to renew their visas, commencing in January, as per State Department officials. Initially, only 20,000 participants will be eligible under this rollout. These applicants will simply need to send their visas to the State Department and are not permitted to travel outside the US during this process.

Specific details about the selection criteria for the initial 20,000 candidates are yet to be disclosed. This stateside visa renewal pilot forms part of several measures the State Department is considering to either introduce or continue, all aimed at reducing wait times for entry to the US.

Stufft mentioned, "We need to establish its effectiveness before expanding it. This is a significant change for individuals residing here who previously would have been required to depart the United States."

Stufft clarified that the visa renewal programme is exclusively for work visas. "This is an existing regulation that was allowed that we just have not used in about 20 years. These are work visas. It is intended for people who are living long-term in the US but want to renew their visa without going back overseas," she explained. 

Read More : Businesstoday

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