In 2023, significant transformations have shaped United States visa policies, impacting various categories such as H-1B, EB-5, and student visas (F, M, J). The changes are valid throughout all embassies across India. Here is all that you need to know about the new regulation
Domestic renewal of H1B visa
The United States began its pilot programme for domestic renewal of certain categories of work visas in 2023.
Earlier this year, U.S. State Department officials announced a limited rollout of the H-1B domestic visa renewal pilot, allowing a restricted 20,000 participants to renew their visas. Under this program, applicants are required to mail their visas to the State Department and are prohibited from traveling outside the U.S.
However, though H1B employees can renew their visas without leaving the country, their spouses can’t.
Restrictions on H-1B registrations:
In 2023, the U.S. government introduced stringent measures to address overrepresentation in H-1B visa registrations. New rules mandate a one-time registration per employee, and accordingly, employers must now submit passport information for each registrant.
Speaking on the issue, Nicholas A. Mastroianni III, President and CMO, US Immigration Fund (USIF), said, “This change is designed to reduce the artificial inflation of applicants’ chances in the H-1B lottery system and to ensure a more streamlined and equitable selection process. The goal is to enhance the fairness and integrity of the H-1B visa program, which is highly sought after by professionals around the world, particularly in the technology sector.”
Digital Visa application process:
In 2023, the U.S. government unveiled an innovative online visa application system, streamlining the process and minimizing paperwork. This digital platform marks a significant advancement, enhancing efficiency for applicants.
“This modernization of the visa application process is aimed at making it more accessible and efficient for applicants around the world. It represents a significant step towards streamlining visa procedures and improving the overall experience for those seeking to travel to the United States”
EB-5 Visa Applicants:
In October 2023, USCIS revised the EB-5 visa policy, aligning with the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022. The update clarifies that if an EB-5 investor creates 10 jobs, they can be repaid after two years while remaining eligible for a U.S. green card.
Apart from that, USCIS significantly improved the processing speed for EB-5 visa applications this year.
Nicholas informs, “There was a noticeable increase in the number of Form I-526 approvals, indicating quicker reviews of new and existing applications. However, there was also a rise in denials, underscoring the need for thorough EB-5 application preparation. By mid-2023, USCIS had notably expedited the processing of rural I-526E applications, with some cases being approved in less than three months, a significant reduction from previous timelines.”
Student Visa policy:
The U.S. has announced an increase in visa processing fees for F, M, and J visas, reflecting the cost of processing by American consular officials. Additionally, consular officers are given more discretion in evaluating students’ visa applications, focusing on the present intent of the applicants rather than strict residency requirements.