New H-1B Visa Rules Unveiled as Registration for FY25 Starts on March 6

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is constantly exploring ways to bolster the integrity of its immigration processes. This commitment has led to a series of changes in the H-1B visa program—a system widely used by US-based companies to employ foreign workers with specialized skills.

USCIS recently introduced a final rule that aims to combat fraud and simplify the H-1B visa registration process with the goal of enhancing the system’s integrity. This comprehensive overhaul seeks to make the selection process more equitable, transparent, and efficient.

Beneficiary-centric selection process

The new beneficiary-centric rule selects H-1B registrants based on the individual merits of the beneficiaries rather than the volume of submissions.

This novel approach shifts the focus from the number of registrations submitted to the unique beneficiaries themselves. By selecting beneficiaries based on their individual attributes, USCIS aims to minimize the potential for gaming the system and give every applicant an equal opportunity.

Fully electronic

The rule also transitions the H-1B process to a fully electronic format, covering everything from registration to the transmission of approved petitions to the Department of State. This shift not only enhances efficiency but also increases transparency throughout the process.

Ensuring valid registrations

To strengthen the system further, USCIS has introduced measures to ensure the validity of registrations. Registrants are now required to provide valid passport or travel document information for each beneficiary, starting with the initial registration period for the fiscal year 2025.

Upholding integrity

The final rule also codifies USCIS’ authority to deny or revoke H-1B petitions that include false attestations or are based on invalid registrations. Additionally, USCIS has the discretion to deny or revoke petition approvals if the associated registration fee is declined, not reconciled, disputed, or found otherwise invalid after submission.

Flexibility in start dates

Recognizing the need for flexibility, USCIS permits certain H-1B petitions subject to the congressionally mandated cap to request employment start dates after October 1 of the relevant fiscal year, aligning with existing policy.

Fee schedule and form updates

The registration fee will remain $10 for the March 2024 registration period. USCIS is also launching a new version of Form I-129 on April 1, 2024, incorporating changes from the H-1B Registration final rule and Fee Schedule final rule.

Starting April 1, 2024, only the 04/01/24 edition will be accepted.

Preparing for the FY 2025 H-1B Cap

The registration window for the fiscal year 2025 H-1B cap will open on March 6, 2024, and close on March 22, 2024. During this period, prospective petitioners must use a USCIS online account to register each beneficiary electronically.

To facilitate collaboration, USCIS will introduce new organizational accounts in the USCIS online account, allowing for joint efforts on H-1B registrations, petitions, and associated forms. Online filing for Form I-129 and associated Form I-907 for non-cap H-1B petitions will begin on February 28, 2024. For petitioners with selected registrations, online filing for H-1B cap petitions and associated forms will open on April 1, 2024.

While paper forms remain an option, USCIS strongly encourages the use of the online filing system due to its efficiency. Note that USCIS is set to impose a filing fee increase for Form I-907 to account for inflation,  effective February 26, 2024.

Seek legal guidance from a green card lawyer in New York.

As USCIS takes steps to enhance the H-1B visa program’s integrity and efficiency, it’s essential to stay informed and seek expert legal guidance when necessary. Navigating these changes without professional advice could jeopardize your best interests.

You may need to consult a green card lawyer in New York if you’re facing unique challenges with your H-1B visa, such as denial, extensions, change of employer, and other such cases. A green card lawyer can also assist you if your H-1B situation involves broader immigration concerns—like potential violations or eligibility for other visa categories.

If you’re a company looking to employ foreign nationals through the H-1B program, a green card lawyer in New York can help you stay compliant with ever-changing immigration laws and streamline the visa application process for your employees.

Berd & Klauss, PLLC is a comprehensive immigration law firm that offers guidance for individual visa applicants and businesses employing foreign nationals. Call 212-461-7152 to schedule a consultation with a green card lawyer in New York.