USCIS Announces FY 2025 H-1B Cap Initial Registration Period and Online Filing of H-1B Petitions
USCIS will use an H-1B cap registration system for the upcoming fiscal year (FY) 2025 cap season requiring employers seeking to file H-1B cap cases to first register online in order to enter the H-1B lottery. USCIS recently announced two new rules that include several changes to the upcoming H-1B season.
Beneficiary-Centric Selection Process: The most significant change is that USCIS will select registrations by unique beneficiary instead of selecting by registration. The objective of this new rule is to ensure that each beneficiary has the same chance of being selected, regardless of the number of registrations submitted on their behalf. If a beneficiary is selected, each employer registrant will be notified of the beneficiary’s selection and will be eligible to file a petition on that beneficiary’s behalf during the applicable petition filing period.
New Employer Organizational Accounts and Online Filing of H-1B Petitions: Additionally, in advance of the H-1B cap registration period, USCIS will launch new organizational accounts to allow better collaboration between employers and their attorneys on their H-1B registration and petition filings. Employers will be required to create new organizational accounts on USCIS.gov website. Employers will be able to create new organizational accounts beginning February 28, 2024, noon EST. MHS will provide instructions on setting Employer organizational accounts once the system goes live. USCIS also has announced that online filing for non-cap H-1B Petitions will be available starting February 28, 2024 ,and for H-1B cap cases starting April 1, 2024.
Increased Filing Fees: USCIS published a new rule dramatically increasing USCIS filing fees. In the new rule, the H-1B registration fee will increase from $10 to $215, although this adjustment will not be effective for the upcoming H-1B registration period in 2024. The registration fee increase will not go into effect until next year.
However, there are several new increased fees that will go into effect for H-1B cap petitions selected in the lottery and filed on or after April 1, 2024. Notably, the fee for Form I-129 filings, including H-1B petitions, will increase from $460 to $780. The new rule also introduces a new Asylum Program Fee which will be added to each Form I-129 and Form I-140 filing in addition to the other filing fees. The asylum fee will be $600 for employers with 26 or more employees, and $300 for small employers (with 25 or fewer employees). Nonprofit organizations are exempt from the Asylum Program Fee.
In addition, in a separate rule, USCIS has increased the Premium Processing fee for H-1B cases from $2,500 to $2,805, and lengthened the premium processing timeframe from calendar days to business days, effective February 26,2024.
The new filing fees for H-1B cap cases will be:
New Asylum Fee: $600 for employers with more than 25 employees; $300 for employers with 25 or fewer employees and non-profits.
I-129 Fee: $780 for employers with more than 25 employees; $460 for employers with 25 or fewer employees and non-profits.
Fraud Detection and Prevention Fee (No change): $500 for all employers.
ACWIA Fee (No change): $1500 for employers with more than 25 employees; $750 for employers with 25 or fewer employees; N/A for non-profits.
Premium Processing (Optional): $2805 for all employers.
H-1B Cap Registration Period: The H-1B cap registration period will remain open from noon Eastern on March 6, 2024, through noon Eastern on March 22, 2024. During this period, employers seeking to file cap-subject H-1B petitions, or their authorized representatives, must complete a registration process that requires basic information about the H-1B employer and each requested H-1B worker. USCIS will conduct the lottery no later than March 31, 2024. Employers with selected registrations will be eligible to file a cap-subject petition only for the beneficiary named in the registration within a 90-day period beginning April 1, 2024.
What steps should employers take now?
The following are some important timing factors to consider for employers interested in sponsoring a foreign national for an H-1B visa this year:
- Employers should identify all foreign nationals who will require H-1B cap sponsorship now. Feel free to contact MHS’ Immigration Group for a comprehensive list of items and information needed for preliminary case analysis of potential H-1B cap cases. Most commonly, H-1B cap candidates are currently in the United States in F-1 student status, often working pursuant to OPT and STEM OPT; but there could also be people being sponsored directly from abroad, as well as people in other temporary visa status like TN, L-1, H-4, H-1B1 or E-3 who seek H-1B status.
- Employers should select their designated representative who will create an Organizational Account to review and approve H-1B cap registrations and petition filing prepared by immigration counsel. MHS will provide detailed instructions for creating Employer organizational accounts once the system goes live beginning February 28, 2024.