February 28, 2024 Article

USCIS Announces H-1B Registration Period for FY2025: New “Beneficiary Centric” Registration Process and Increased Fees

USCIS has recently announced a series of changes that will impact the FY2025 H-1B registration system and cap filing season.

H-1B Registration Period and Organizational Accounts

  • As in prior years, under this process, prospective petitioners (also known as registrants), and their authorized representatives, who are seeking to employ H-1B workers subject to the cap, must complete a registration process that requires basic information about the prospective petitioner and each requested worker. The initial registration period is for a minimum of 14 calendar days each fiscal year. The H-1B selection process is then run on properly submitted electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations are eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.

  • The FY2025 Initial H-1B registration period will run from 12 noon (ET) on March 6, 2024, through 12 noon (ET) on March 22, 2024. During this period, prospective petitioning employers and their representatives must use a USCIS online account to register each beneficiary electronically for the H-1B selection process (lottery). USCIS expects to notify selected registrants by March 31, 2024. As with prior years, it is expected that USCIS will receive enough registrations by March 22 to complete the random selection of 65,000 H-1B beneficiaries submitted in the regular cap, with an additional 20,000 H-1B beneficiaries who possess an advanced degree from an accredited U.S. public or nonprofit institution.

  • Registrants may begin creating or upgrading to the new organizational accounts as of 12 noon ET on February 28, 2024. Those who have an existing registrant account can easily upgrade to an organizational account instead of creating a new account.

  • Online filing for organizational accounts was launched on February 28, 2024. These new organizational accounts in the USCIS online account will allow multiple people within an organization and their legal representatives to collaborate on and prepare H-1B registrations, H-1B petitions, and any associated Form I-907 online.

  • Also on Feb. 28, USCIS launch online filing of Form I-129 and associated Form I-907 for non-cap H-1B petitions. On April 1, USCIS will begin accepting online filing for H-1B cap petitions and associated Forms I-907 for petitioners whose registrations have been selected.

  • Petitioners will continue to have the option of filing a paper Form I-129 H-1B petition and any associated Form I-907 if they prefer.

Beneficiary-Centric Registration Process

Good news for prospective H-1B temporary workers. When U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced last April that it had received over three-quarters of a million registrations for the 85,000 available H-1B visas, it was the latest in years of signals that the H-1B program wasn’t working. The registration system, which was intended to simplify the process of applying for an H-1B visa, was inundated with submissions on behalf of individuals with multiple registrations. In fact, over 400,000 of the 758,000 registrations were filed for individuals for whom more than one registration was submitted.

Recognizing that this gaming of the H-1B registration process created an inequitable system USCIS has implemented a “Beneficiary-Centric” registration process for the 2025 Fiscal Year. Instead of selecting by employer registration, USCIS will now select registrations by unique beneficiary. Each unique beneficiary who has a registration submitted on their behalf will be entered into the “lottery” once, regardless of how many employer registrations are submitted on their behalf. If a beneficiary is selected, each employer that submitted a registration on that beneficiary’s behalf will be notified of the beneficiary’s selection and will be eligible to file a petition on that beneficiary’s behalf during the H-1B petition filing period starting on April 1st.

An individual for whom one registration was submitted will have the same chance of being selected as someone for whom multiple registrations were filed, significantly decreasing the value of gaming the system with multiple registrations solely to improve the odds of selection.

Increased Fees

USCIS published the revised Fee Schedule final rule, which will go into effect on April 1, 2024. All H-1B petitions postmarked on or after April 1, 2024, will be required to pay the following new fees:

  • Form I-129
    • $780 for employers with 26 or more Full-Time Employees (FTEs)
    • $460 for small employers (25 or fewer FTEs) and nonprofit entities

    • Asylum Program Fee – This is a new fee that will be assessed on all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions to help cover the costs of asylum adjudications;
      • $600 for employers with 26 or more Full-Time Employees (FTEs)
      • $300 for small employers (25 FTEs or less)
      • $0 for nonprofit organizations

    • Additionally, USCIS announced a final rule adjusting the premium processing fees, which will increase filing fees for Form I-907, effective February 26, 2024.  For Form I-129, the new premium processing fee is $2,805.

Please contact Attorney Mariana Baron at [email protected] if you have any questions regarding the H-1B program.

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