Need to Renew Your Non-Immigrant US Visa? U.S. Says You Need to Go Back Home First.
The US State Department announced that it would discontinue the domestic visa reissuance service for processing the 'renewals' of certain nonimmigrant visas within the United States.
US Visa categories that are affected are C, E, H, L, O, P, or I and no new applications for visa renewals in the USA would be accepted after July 16. After this date, all applicants must apply for visa renewals in their home countries.
The US State Department said that it is not feasible for the department to collect the biometric identifiers in the United States and encourage all applicants to apply in their home countries.
This does NOT mean that the BCIS (Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services) will stop accepting 'applications' for the above US visa categories, or that they will stop approving those visas. It simply means they will stop accepting new applications for the above listed visa 'renewals' to be 'processed' in the USA.
This circular simply means that State Department will stop stamping the passport with the most currently issued visa based on the most current approval of BCIS.
For example : a student with an F1 visa changes their status to H1B with no plans to leave the US, they would not need a visa stamp, they can simply keep the H1B approval along with the new I-94 inside his passport. Eventually if this person gets adjusted to permanent residency and never had to go outside the US - this new rule would not affect them at all.
On the other hand, if an H1B holder who does not have the new visa stamp on his passport needs to travel to some other country - in the past they could have send their passport to the State Department to get it stamped without leaving the US. Now, in all likelihood they will now have to return to their "home country" to get their passport stamped, as they would need the visa stamp in their passport in order to re-enter the US.
So what is the reason behind elimination of reissuance of visa in the United States?
Beginning October 1, 2004, all visas must include a biometric indicator. This means a fingerprint is needed. The State Department’s revalidation unit is not equipped to fingerprint visa applicants. The reason behind this decision is that after the new biometric requirement is implemented, the home country where the original visa was issued would have the fingerprint and all other biometric data, in order to reissue the visa. Moreover, it would help to stop the usage of fake passports, traveling with other people’s passport, and variety of other immigration frauds.
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