FY 2025 H-1B Cap Season Launched with Important Changes
USCIS announced that the initial electronic registration period for the fiscal year (FY 2025) H-1B cap season will open at noon Eastern on March 6, 2024 and will run through noon Eastern on March 22, 2024.
USCIS also announced important updates to the H-1B cap program this year, including
- the replacement of registrant accounts with organizational accounts;
- an imminent final rule changing the H-1B cap selection process; and,
- a final rule raising petition filing fees. The filing fee rule will not impact the current registration fee of $10 for the March registration period, but will impact H-1B filing fees for selected registrations.
FY 2025 H-1B CAP DETAILS
- Cap-subject H-1B employers intending to sponsor H-1B workers must first register each intended beneficiary electronically with USCIS during the designated registration period (March 6 through March 22).
- While USCIS announced a new fee schedule, the cap registration fee will remain $10 for the March registration cycle.
- If the number of registrations received by March 22 exceeds the number of H-1B visas available under the annual quota as expected, USCIS will randomly select a sufficient number of registrations projected to reach the FY 2025 H-1B cap.
NEW THIS YEAR:
- USCIS is implementing “organizational” accounts to replace “registrant” accounts. US employers and their legal representatives must use the new organizational accounts to submit cap registrations this year. Intending registrants will be able to create new organizational accounts beginning at noon Eastern on February 28, 2024. Employers with existing registrant accounts are able to upgrade to an organizational account without creating a new account. It is important to work with immigration counsel to ensure the organizational account is properly configured.
- USCIS has begun implementation of a series of rules to the amend the H-1B program, as previously summarized, starting with the H-1B cap selection process. Specifically, USCIS will implement a beneficiary-centric process for registration selection. USCIS will require registrants to provide valid passport information (or valid travel document information) for each beneficiary. Each beneficiary must only be registered under one passport/travel document. The passport must be the one the beneficiary intends to use for the H-1B visa.
- The new USCIS rule raising fees for H-1B and other petitions will take effect April 1, and thus will impact H-1B cap petition filings for selected registrations. As of April 1, the Form I-129 filing fee for an H-1B petition filed by a for-profit employer with more than 25 employees will increase 70%, from $460 to $780. (This does not include the ACWIA and Fraud Fee). A USCIS FAQ on the new fee rule is available here.
- USCIS will publish a new edition of Form I-129 which must be used for H-1B petition filings on and after April 1, 2024.
- USCIS intends to allow online filing of Form I-129 for H-1B cap petitions and some other petitions. However, USCIS has yet to provide detailed information about the protocol for online filings and how these will integrate with the newly formed organizational accounts. Employers may continue to submit paper Form I-129 petitions, including H-1B cap petitions. Paper filings will be transitioned from USCIS Service Centers to USCIS lockbox filings.
- USCIS will allow start date flexibility for certain H-1B cap-subject petitions, allowing employers to select a start date that is after October 1 of the relevant fiscal year in some instances.
- The new rule codifies and strengthens the authority of USCIS deny or revoke H-1B petitions where the underlying registration contains a false attestation or is otherwise invalid.
- Employers may file an H-1B cap petition only for the beneficiary named in the selected registration; no substitutions are permitted.
- USCIS expects to conduct the random selection and notify employers of selected registrations by March 31, 2024.
- After the first round of selection, employers will have a 90-day window during which to file H-1B cap petitions for the beneficiary named in the selected registration. The petition filing period is expected to start no later than Monday, April 1, 2024.
- If by the end of the first 90-day filing window USCIS has not received enough petitions to reach the annual quota/H-1B cap, USCIS may designate subsequent filing windows until the H-1B statutory quota is reached.
Given the many changes to the H-1B cap registration and H-1B petition filing process this year, including the need to establish organizational accounts to submit registrations, it is more important than ever to work closely with immigration counsel to ensure cap registrations are timely and properly submitted and that filed H-1B petitions meet all new procedural requirements. Moreover, USCIS is expected to publish additional rule(s) that will substantively alter the H-1B visa program. To ensure that you are “cap ready” and up-to-speed on the most recent changes, please contact your designated Gibney representative, or email email@example.com.