The U.S. State Department issued more than 10.4 million nonimmigrant visas last fiscal year, the most since 2015 and nearly a record.

This figure represents a significant increase over the roughly 6.8 million nonimmigrant visas issued in the 2022 fiscal year and even eclipsed the number of nonimmigrant visas issued in the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a media note last week, the State Department said it:

  • Issued 8 million visitor visas for business and tourism, more than in any fiscal year since 2016.
  • Issued more than 600,000 student visas, the highest of any year since FY 2017. This included 140,000 student visas issued at the embassy and consulates in India.
  • Issued 590,000 nonimmigrant visas to high-skilled workers and executives and 442,000 visas to temporary and seasonal workers.

BAL Analysis: The increase in nonimmigrant visa issuance is welcome news, though visa services at some embassies and consulates remain delayed, especially for B1/B2 visitor visas. The State Department cited expanded interview waiver authorities as one reason for the increase in visa issuance; these authorities are set to expire at the end of the year, though the U.S. Travel Association and others have called for an extension.

The State Department said it would continue “exploring new technologies to assess opportunities to streamline operations,” including “the option of domestic renewal in select visa categories.” The Department has indicated that a pilot domestic renewal program will be launched as early as January, initially to a limited number of H-1B visa holders, before being expanded to other categories. BAL will continue following the implementation of the domestic renewal pilot and will provide additional information as it becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice Group.

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