Back to the Future – Stateside Visa Revalidation is Returning After 20 Years

When I first started doing business immigration back in September 1989, the immigration landscape was vastly different. Back then, a simple stateside visa revalidation process offered a cost-effective, efficient way to renew certain visas without having to pay thousands of dollars to leave the country, apply for a new visa, and return to the US after visa reissuance. This process allowed individuals to renew their work-authorizing visas by simply sending their visa application and passport to the US State Department for visa reissuance.

However, in the wake of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, we saw a seismic shift in immigration policy, and the revalidation process was one of the many processes lost in the name of national security.

Now, after two decades, visa revalidation is making a comeback. The US State Department is preparing to launch a new pilot program later this year, initially targeting H-1 visas on a limited basis. This is part of modernizing visa processes and saving nonimmigrants time and money to revalidate their status. The infrastructure for this initiative is currently in its final stages of development.

It’s likely that, barring unforeseen issues, the program will be expanded to other visa types after a successful run of the pilot program for roughly a year. The benefits of this program include:

Reduced Downtime: Historically, when visa holders needed to renew their visas, they often faced the daunting prospect of leaving the United States temporarily. This not only disrupted their lives but also negatively impacted their employers.

Cost Savings: As noted, this also introduces significant cost savings. International travel is expensive and inconvenient at times. With the reintroduction of visa revalidation, these costs can be greatly reduced or even eliminated entirely.

Efficiency: Visa revalidation is a streamlined process that can save individuals and employers valuable time. Unlike other visa renewal methods that involve interviews and extensive paperwork, visa revalidation typically requires less documentation and hassle.

Caveat: Ensure Your I-94 Won’t Expire During the Revalidation Process

There is one crucial caveat to all this: Visa holders opting for revalidation must ensure that their I-94, which is the document that grants them status in the United States, does not expire during the revalidation process. Visa holders should be aware that visas solely grant them the right to apply for entry into the United States, while the I-94 allows them to physically stay in the country. If the I-94 expires during the revalidation application process, the application will be denied, and the individual will still need to leave the country, apply for a new visa,  and return to the US after visa reissuance.

Still, this is a significant development for immigration policy and businesses in need of modernized immigration practices. If you or your business needs assistance with this new pilot program and navigating an altering business immigration landscape, contact Valvo & Associates to ensure you’re getting the best, most efficient immigration services available.

By Brandon Valvo