USCIS Update: Changes to Form I-129 Petitions for H-1B Classification Effective April 1, 2024

For US-based employers hiring foreign workers, it is important to understand the requirements and procedures of Form I-129 for H-1B and any related updates. This form allows petitioners to file on behalf of nonimmigrant workers seeking temporary employment or training in the US under H-1B nonimmigrant classification. It also facilitates requests for status changes to E-1, E-3, E-2, TN, or H-1B1, as well as extensions of stay.

It’s also important to stay informed about changes in immigration laws and procedures that may affect your workforce. Among the recent updates is the final rule issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), slated to take effect on April 1, 2024. Several changes will impact Form I-129 petitions for H-1B nonimmigrant workers. Below, we highlight these updates that may affect your business. Should you have further inquiries, do not hesitate to consult our immigration lawyer in Queens NY.

New fees

Starting April 1, 2024, a new fee rule from the USCIS will come into effect, impacting Form I-129 petitions along with several other forms, including:

  • Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker (Form I-129 CW)
  • Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative
  • Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition and its supplements (Form I-600A)
  • Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers

Furthermore, USCIS service centers will cease accepting Form I-129 petitions for H-1B (HSC) Free Trade Agreement workers in specialty occupations from Singapore and Chile classifications or H-1B Specialty Occupation Workers.

New ways to file forms

Starting April 1, 2024, there will be two ways to file H-1B visa petitions (Form I-129) for H-1B or H-1B1 (HSC) classification:

  1. Paper filing

    Paper petitions can be mailed to a specific USCIS lockbox location. USCIS will announce these lockbox addresses in late March 2024. This option applies to all paper-filled forms, including:
  • Form I-129 (H-1B petition) alone
  • Form I-129 filed with Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing)
  • Form I-129 filed with Form I-765 (employment authorization) and/or Form I-539 (change of status)

Important note: Any paper-filed H-1B or H-1B1 (HSC) petitions received at a USCIS service center on or after April 1, 2024, will be rejected.

  1. Online filing (available starting March 2024)

This option is currently available for H-1B non-cap petitions only (petitions submitted outside the H-1B visa cap season). These can be filed online as early as March 2024.

Starting April 1, 2024, online filing will also be available for:

  • H-1B cap petitions (submitted during the H-1B visa cap season)
  • Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing) associated with selected H-1B registrations 

No grace period

USCIS is usually flexible when introducing new forms, offering a grace period to use the old versions. This time is different.

Because the fee structure for immigration applications is changing on April 1, 2024, the USCIS needs updated versions of specific forms, including Form I-129 for H-1B visas. These updated forms will reflect the new fees.

What you need to do:

  • Use the new forms – Do not use the old versions of Form I-129 or other affected forms for applications submitted on or after April 1, 2024. USCIS will reject any applications with outdated forms, regardless of the postmark date.
  • Check the fees – The new forms will have the updated fee information. To avoid delays, double check to ensure that you pay the correct amount.

Final versions of the new forms will be available on the USCIS website by April 1st.

Impact of the final rule on Form I-129

The USCIS finalized its rule in the Federal Register on January 31, 2024, to adjust the required fees for various immigration petitions and applications. These changes and new fees will be enforced starting April 1, 2024. Petitions and applications postmarked on or after this date must include the new fees, or they risk rejection.

Furthermore, there will be no grace period for filing the latest edition of Form I-129 or the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker due to the application of new fee calculations.

Additional considerations for Form I-129

  • USCIS will continue accepting the 05/31/23 version of Form I-129 if postmarked before April 1, 2024.
  • The agency will not accept this edition of the form if postmarked on or after April 1, 2024.
  • USCIS will exclusively accept Form I-129’s 04/01/24 version if postmarked on or after the same date.

Seek expert guidance

Berd & Klauss, PLLC diligently monitors USCIS updates and policy changes that could affect our clients.

Our experienced immigration lawyer in Queens, NY, will actively collaborate with you to ensure complete compliance and offer informed guidance when hiring foreign national employees.

Whether you need assistance with permanent residence, citizenship applications, or deportation defense, our immigration lawyer in Queens, NY, is here to help. Do not hesitate to schedule your consultation today by calling 212-461-7152.