USCIS will soon be announcing the opening of the fiscal year (FY) 2025 H-1B Lottery. We are anticipating that the process will be similar to years past, whereby employers seeking to file FY 2025 H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first electronically register and pay a registration fee for each electronic registration they submit to USCIS.
Expected Changes: USCIS announced on January 12, 2024, that they will be changing the registration process for non-cap petitions. Non-cap Employers can now start entity accounts, which would allow a team of people authorized by the employer, to act in concert with the attorney to prepare and submit H-1B registrations.
The service expects to release the feature allowing for electronic filing of Form I-129 for H-1B and Form I-907 for Premium Processing sometime in February.
Paper-based petitions will transition from filing with the service center to filing with the lockbox in an effort to streamline the process and reduce costs.
H-1B Cap and Lottery Registration Process Expected Changes
In October 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) to amend the current regulations to modernize the H-1B visa program. These proposed changes include:
- Amending current regulations regarding H-1B visas to revise the regulatory definition of “specialty occupation,” expand eligibility for H-1B cap-exempt petitions, codify its deference policy, and clarify requirements for the H-1B petition filing.
- Extending the cap-gap extension until April 1 of the fiscal year (FY) and allowing employers to request a start date on or after October 1 for cap-subject H-1B petitions.
- Selecting registrants by a unique beneficiary rather than registration under the H-1B lottery and eliminate the ability for related entities to submit multiple registrations on behalf of the same beneficiary.
- Proposing several measures to improve program integrity, such as ensuring there is a bona fide job offer for a specialty occupation role, compliance with site visits, and third-party placement.
Proposed Fee Increases: In addition to the above proposed changes, the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) received the final rule containing the new fees on January 8, 2024. Based on past fee rule increases, once the rule is published in the Federal Register, it will likely become effective in 60 days.
Some of the price changes could include:
- I-129 H-1B: Current ($460) New ($780)
- H-1B Registration Fee: Current ($10) New ($215)
- Premium Processing: USCIS has already announced the implementation of increased fees for petitions filed AFTER February 26, 2024. The Premium Processing fee is now $2800 (up from $2500)