The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has made significant announcements regarding the FY 2025 H-1B cap, introducing a final rule aimed at enhancing the integrity of the H-1B registration process and reducing the potential for fraud. USCIS has also provided important information about the initial registration period for the FY 2025 H-1B cap and the launch of an online filing option for various H-1B petition forms. These updates signal a commitment to fairness, transparency, and efficiency in the H-1B visa program.
H-1B Registration Final Rule
The final rule announced by USCIS introduces several key changes to the H-1B registration process:
- Beneficiary-Centric Selection Process: Under this new approach, registrations will be selected based on unique beneficiaries rather than by registration. This change is designed to reduce the potential for fraud and ensure that every beneficiary has an equal chance of being selected. Starting with the FY 2025 initial registration period, registrants will be required to provide valid passport information or valid travel document information for each beneficiary. This passport or travel document must be the one the beneficiary intends to use to enter the United States if granted an H-1B visa.
- Start Date Flexibility: USCIS will now allow certain petitions subject to the congressionally mandated H-1B cap to specify employment start dates that are after October 1 of the relevant fiscal year, consistent with current policy.
- Integrity Measures: The final rule codifies USCIS’ authority to deny or revoke H-1B petitions if the underlying registration contained false information or was otherwise invalid. Additionally, USCIS may deny or revoke the approval of an H-1B petition if it determines that the registration fee associated with it is declined, not reconciled, disputed, or otherwise invalid after submission.
- Fee Schedule Final Rule: USCIS has also announced the Fee Schedule final rule, which will take effect after the initial registration period for the FY 2025 H-1B cap. Therefore, the registration fee during the registration period starting in March 2024 will remain at $10.
- New Edition of Form I-129: USCIS will release a new edition of Form I-129 to reflect the changes introduced by the H-1B Registration final rule and Fee Schedule final rule. Beginning April 1, 2024, only the 04/01/24 edition of Form I-129 will be accepted.
FY 2025 H-1B Cap Initial Registration Period
The initial registration period for the FY 2025 H-1B cap is set to open at noon Eastern on March 6, 2024, and will run through noon Eastern on March 22, 2024. During this window, prospective petitioners and their representatives must use a USCIS online account to electronically register each beneficiary for the selection process and pay the associated registration fee for each beneficiary.
For more detailed information on the H-1B Cap Season, please visit the H-1B Cap Season webpage.
Organizational Accounts and Online Filing
Starting on February 28, 2024, USCIS will launch organizational accounts within the USCIS online account system. These accounts will allow multiple individuals within an organization and their legal representatives to collaborate on and prepare H-1B registrations, H-1B petitions, and associated Form I-907.
Also, on February 28, USCIS will initiate online filing of Form I-129 and associated Form I-907 for non-cap H-1B petitions. Starting April 1, USCIS will accept online filings for H-1B cap petitions and associated Forms I-907 for petitioners whose registrations have been selected.
It’s important to note that petitioners will still have the option of filing a paper Form I-129 H-1B petition and any associated Form I-907 if they prefer. However, during the initial launch of organizational accounts, users will not be able to link paper-filed forms to their online accounts.
As a final reminder, USCIS recently announced a final rule that will increase the filing fee for Form I-907 to adjust for inflation, effective February 26, 2024. If USCIS receives a Form I-907 postmarked on or after February 26, 2024, with the incorrect filing fee, the form will be rejected, and the filing fee will be returned. For filings sent by commercial courier, the postmark date is the date reflected on the courier receipt.
These developments represent significant changes to the H-1B visa program, aimed at ensuring fairness, transparency, and efficiency throughout the registration and petitioning process. Prospective H-1B petitioners and beneficiaries are encouraged to stay informed about these updates to navigate the process successfully.