How To Apply for H1B Domestic Visa Renewal in the US – Your Guide for 2024

For those residing in the US under an H1B visa, the long-awaited process for domestic visa renewal, known as H1B domestic visa renewal, is now open for applications starting January 29, 2024. In this quick, comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the steps and requirements related to applying for the H1B domestic visa renewal.

You can find all the links to the forms and websites mentioned throughout the article. This step-by-step guide will give you all the resources you need for an easy and straightforward renewal process. 

Background: H1B Visa Renewal within the US

The US Department of State has initiated a pilot program to reintroduce US visa stampings within the country, allowing eligible H1B visa holders to renew their visas domestically. This pilot program began accepting applications from January 29, 2024.

Step-by-Step Guide to Apply for H1B Domestic Visa Renewal

Requirements:

To be eligible for H1B domestic visa renewal, you must meet specific criteria, including having a previous H1B visa issued in Canada or India within specific date ranges, eligibility for H1B Dropbox or interview waiver, and maintaining valid H1B status in the US.

Step 1: Check Eligibility with Navigator

Use the H1B Pilot Eligibility Navigator provided by the US Department of State to ensure you meet all the necessary criteria. Apply only if you receive a confirmation message indicating your eligibility.

To gauge your eligibility, visit this form and answer the series of questions written by the US Department of State to determine eligibility hasslefree. 

Note: Do not be deterred from the form due to its formatting as a Google Form, it is a valid form created to simplify the process

Step 2: Complete DS-160 Form

If found eligible, proceed to complete the online non-immigrant visa application form (DS-160) and select “U.S.-DOMESTIC” as the location.

You can find the DS-160 form online, through this link

Step 3: Create Login Account to Book Appointment

Create an account on the respective US Visa Appointment Booking website based on where your previous H1B visa was issued. Provide US residential address details and phone numbers during the account creation.

Refer to this guide to understand how to create your USVisaScheduling.com Acocunt. 

Step 4: Create Application 

While completing the application, ensure you choose the “Embassy/Consulate/OFC” field as “WASHINGTON DC”. In the “Post Visa Category” option, select “Domestic renewal”. The system will automatically set the Visa Class Tag field as “H1B Domestic Renewal”.

After you have done that, you will be asked to complete a set of questions similar to the eligibility check form we mentioned earlier. You must answer these question to get your confirmation message. 

Here are the questions you will need to answer: 

  • Was your most recent H1B Visa issued in India?
  • Was your recent H1B Visa issued with an issuance date between February 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021?
  • Do you have a passport valid for travel to the United States, which is valid for at least six months beyond the visa application date, and contains a blank, unmarked page for placement of visa foild?
  • Was your recent H1B Visa subject to a nonimmigrant visa issuance fee?
  • Was your most recent H1B Visa lost or stolen?
  • Does your prior H1B Visa include a “clearance received” annotation?
  • Do you have a copy of your valid I-797 petition for which you are applying?
  • Are you aware of any potential grounds for visa ineligibility that may apply to your application?

Once you have answered those questions, you will get your confirmation message. This is how you will know that you are qualified for the visa renewal pilot program (for the US) and can proceed to submit your application with the necessary details. 

Step 5: Document Delivery Location, Pay Fee

Once you have received your confirmation, select “Premium Delivery” as the document delivery location. This is where your passport will be delivered so choose wisely.  

Now, you will be taken to the payment option. Proceed to pay the fee using your preferred option. 

If you do not get a slot, due to scheduling conflicts or high demand, do not fear. The payment screen specifies that, “your visa fee can still be used in India for scheduling an appointment within one year from the date of payment.” 

Step 6: Book Appointment, Drop off Documents

Now, you will move on to booking your appointment. Make sure to book an appointment at the “Washington DC” location. Then, you will print the appointment confirmation and proceed to go to a FedEx location for document submission on the scheduled date.

The instructions will state this as well, however, three days before your appointment date, the applicant will receive an email that contains all the instructions for the document submission process. Here you will also receive a “Prepaid Courier Airway Bill”. This must be brought with you to the document submission at the FedEx location you picked earlier. 

Let us double check that you have everything you need. 

Document Checklist for H1B Domestic Visa Renewal

  • H1B Domestic renewal Appointment confirmation letter
  • Printout of DS–160 confirmation page
  • Valid passport with blank page and at least 6 months validity
  • Passport color photo
  • Copy of H1B Approval notice (Form I–797)
  • Copy of Form I–94, Arrival-Departure Record
  • Copies of three most recent pay stubs/pay slips

Step 7: Processing of H1B Renewal Application

Upon submission, all documents will be sent to the US Department of State office in Washington DC for processing and adjudication. Anticipate a decision period of approximately 6 to 8 weeks from the receipt of your passport and other documents by the US Department of State.

There is a standard waiting period of 6 to 8 weeks for the return of your passport, without any premium processing or expedited options. A frequently asked question is whether this time can be expedited. Unfortunately, no such systems are in place yet. However, in case of urgency, obtaining your passport earlier is possible, but it may result in a 221g Administrative Processing Refusal. Please note that no fee refunds will be issued.

Additional documents, such as proof of address, may be requested as necessary during the processing period.

To track the status of your application, you can visit the Online CEAC Tracker website.

Step 8: Passport with Issued Visa Returned

Upon approval, your passport with the issued H1B Visa will be returned via FedEx to the chosen courier document delivery location.

Note: If the application is not approved, a 221(g) administrative processing refusal letter will be issued, and no fee will be refunded.

This guide aims to simplify the process for H1B domestic visa renewal, providing clarity on eligibility, steps, and necessary documents. Always refer to official sources for the most up-to-date information.

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