The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released a final rule aimed at reinforcing the integrity and fairness of the H-1B visa registration process. The new measures are designed to prevent fraud, equalize selection opportunities, and streamline application procedures. Detailed information includes:
1. Enhanced H-1B Registration Process:
• The final rule introduces a beneficiary-centric selection method, meaning applicants will be chosen based on unique individual criteria rather than by registration count.
• This approach aims to deter fraud and ensure equal selection chances, regardless of the number of registrations an employer submits for a beneficiary.
• Starting with the FY 2025 registration period, registrants must provide valid passport or valid travel document information for each beneficiary. This document should be the one the beneficiary plans to use for U.S. entry if granted an H-1B visa.
• Beneficiaries are required to register under one passport or travel document only.
2. FY 2025 H-1B Cap Initial Registration Period:
• The registration window opens at noon Eastern on March 6, 2024, and closes at noon Eastern on March 22, 2024.
• Prospective petitioners and their legal representatives must use the USCIS online account system to register each beneficiary electronically and pay the associated registration fee per beneficiary.
3. Online Filing and Organizational Accounts:
• From February 28, 2024, USCIS will introduce new organizational accounts, allowing collaboration on H-1B registrations, petitions, and Form I-907 within an organization and its legal representatives.
• Online filing for Form I-129 (H-1B petitions) and Form I-907 (premium processing requests) will be available for non-cap H-1B petitions starting Feb. 28, 2024.
• USCIS will accept online filings for cap-subject H-1B petitions and associated Form I-907s for selected registrants beginning April 1, 2024.
• Paper filing for Forms I-129 and I-907 remains an option, although they cannot be linked to online accounts during the initial phase of organizational accounts.
4. Paper Filing Option and Fee Adjustments:
• USCIS recently announced a fee increase for Form I-907 to adjust for inflation, effective Feb. 26, 2024. Incorrect fee submissions postmarked on or after this date will lead to rejection and return of the form and fee.
• For commercial courier filings, the postmark date is considered the date on the courier receipt.
5. Additional Integrity Measures and Information:
• The new rule clarifies filing with requested employment start dates after Oct. 1 of the relevant fiscal year, aligning with current policies.
• USCIS can deny or revoke H-1B petitions if the underlying registration includes false attestations or is invalid, or if associated fees are declined, not reconciled, disputed, or otherwise invalid after submission.
• The H-1B registration fee will stay at $10 for the registration period starting in March 2024.
• A new edition of Form I-129, reflecting the changes from the H-1B Registration final rule and Fee Schedule final rule, will be available on uscis.gov (edition date 04/01/24). Starting April 1, 2024, only this edition will be accepted.
USCIS aims to bolster the H-1B program’s integrity and streamline application processes, making selections more equitable for petitioners and beneficiaries and enabling a fully electronic process from registration to the final decision and transmission of approved petitions. For more details, please contact our office or visit the USCIS website.