USCIS announces significant changes to H1-B visa selection process

H1-B Visa
H1-B Visa

USCIS has announced changes to their H1-B visa selection rule for 2024. Registrations will now be selected based on unique beneficiaries, reducing the potential for fraud, and ensuring equal chances of selection of participants in the lottery.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India.

USCIS will change the H-1B selection process so that each H-1B beneficiary is selected only once regardless of how many registrations are submitted on the beneficiary’s behalf. Unlike in the past when multiple applications by an individual often resulted in abuse in fraud of the system, the H-1B visa applications would now be counted and accepted based on individual applicants. Even if one individual files multiple applications for various companies, they would be counted as one application based on their personal credentials like passport numbers.

This change is designed to eliminate incentives for bad actors to submit multiple H-1B registrations for the same individual — and has the potential to reduce the overall number of registrations and boost H-1B selection rates for employers. 

The final rule is expected to take effect March 4, 30 days after its official publication, meaning this change would be in effect for this year’s 2024 H-1B lottery. 

USCIS has not yet finalized other portions of an October 2023 H-1B modernization proposal, including some that would make changes to H-1B eligibility requirements. A pre-publication version of the rule is available here.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also released two final rules for the H-1B visa programme, which lets US employers hire foreign workers in specialty occupations, but with a higher fee structure.

USCIS has also increased the H1-B visa fees significantly. Registration fees for H-1B visas would rise from $10 to $215 from April 1, 2024. There have also been changes the lottery process for the H-1B cap, which limits the number of visas to 65,000 per year, plus 20,000 for those with a US master’s degree or higher.

To implement this procedure, USCIS will require registrants to provide valid passport or travel document information for each beneficiary, starting from the FY 2025 initial registration period, which will run from March 6, 2024, to March 22, 2024.

The new regulation also clarifies the requirements for the requested employment start date on certain petitions subject to the H-1B cap. It allows petitioners to request a start date after October 1 of the relevant fiscal year, which is the beginning of the H-1B validity period. This will give petitioners more flexibility and avoid unnecessary delays.

In addition, the new regulation codifies USCIS’ authority to deny or revoke H-1B petitions if the registration contains false attestation or is otherwise invalid. This will help USCIS to enforce the H-1B programme rules and protect the rights of both US workers and H-1B workers.

USCIS will also offer online filing options for Form I-129 and Form I-907 for non-cap H-1B petitions, starting from the same date. These online services will make the H-1B process more convenient and efficient for users.

According to the USCIS, the initial registration period for the fiscal 2025 H-1B cap will open at noon Eastern on March 6, and run through March 22. For electronically registering each beneficiary for the selection process during this time, prospective petitioners and their advocates, if any, must use a USCIS online account and pay the registration fee for each beneficiary. Starting February 28, companies would be allowed to open their account which can be used to start and complete the registration process.



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