The United States government officials have said that H-1B visa holders could soon renew their visas within the country.
Almost 73% of H-1B visa holders as of 2022 are Indian citizens and the remarks by US officials come as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on his first state visit to the country.
“… The United States Department of State is going to launch a pilot to adjudicate domestic renewals of certain petition-based temporary work visas later this year, including for Indian nationals with the intent to implement this for an expanded pool of H-1 and L visa holders,” the Press Trust of India quoted a government official as saying.
“The pilot would begin with a small number of cases with the intention to scale the initiative over the following one to two years,” a state department spokesperson told news agency Reuters.
Although officials have mentioned the pilot to reporters, the US government is yet to officially announce the new policy.
H-1B is a category of non-immigrant US visas that are issued for three years to workers who are hired to perform specialised work requiring technical expertise.
These can be renewed for another three years after their first term expires.
As things stand today, H-1B workers have to travel back to their country of origin to renew their visa at a US consulate, because the US government stopped its policy of renewing these visas within the country in 2004, PTI reported.
The move to allow visa renewal within the US will reduce the workload on the country’s embassies and consulates in India, which are also undergoing an initiative to clear their visa processing backlog, Reuters reported, adding that this backlog intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic, causing people to be separated from their families.
Indian and US delegations are expected to discuss this initiative during Modi’s state visit, its report continued to say.
“It is good for people in India, good for people in the United States, really good for our businesses,” a government official told PTI about the developments.
Other developments from Modi’s visit are the signing of a memorandum of understanding between General Electric and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the joint production of engines for the Indian Air Force’s Tejas aircraft, an agreement between the two countries to fly a joint mission to the International Space Station and Modi’s answering his first press conference questions since 2015.
This article was first published by TheWire
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