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Quick Hits

  • The FY 2025 H-1B cap registration period will begin at noon ET on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, and end at noon ET on Friday, March 22, 2024.
  • The H-1B registration fee for FY 2025 will remain $10 per registration.
  • The beneficiary-centric system has been created to ensure each beneficiary has the same chance of being selected, regardless of the number of registrations submitted on the beneficiary’s behalf.

FY 2025 H-1B Registration Period

USCIS has announced that the registration period for the FY 2025 H-1B cap lottery selection process will open on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, at noon ET, and will end on Friday, March 22, 2024, at noon ET. It is only during this period that employers or their representatives can register potential H-1B beneficiaries through a myUSCIS online account. As with prior years, it is expected that USCIS will receive enough registrations by March 22 to complete the random selection of 65,000 H-1B beneficiaries submitted in the regular cap, with an additional 20,000 H-1B beneficiaries who possess an advanced degree from an accredited U.S. public or nonprofit institution.

Registration Fee Will Remain $10

USCIS has confirmed that the final rule increasing the registration fee to $215 will not go into effect until after the FY 2025 registration period. Accordingly, the FY 2025 H-1B registration fee will remain $10.

New Beneficiary-Centric System

As set forth in the final rule, “Improving the H-1B Registration Selection Process and Program Integrity,” a new beneficiary-centric system will shift the selection process from selecting from a group of registrations to selecting from a group of beneficiaries. It is intended to strengthen the integrity of and reduce the potential for fraud in the H-1B registration process. This change is in response to the significant increase in beneficiaries with multiple registrations in prior fiscal years. For instance, USCIS received a total of 780,884 registrations for FY 2024, of which 408,891 registrations were submitted for beneficiaries with multiple eligible registrations. Beneficiaries who had multiple registrations submitted on their behalf would, in theory, have had a higher selection rate. While current regulations do not prohibit multiple registrations by different employers on behalf of a single beneficiary, there were concerns that the increase in multiple registrations indicated misuse of the registration system. USCIS stated that it would improve the system “by reducing the potential for gaming the registration system and ensuring each beneficiary would have the same chance of being selected, regardless of the number of registrations submitted on their behalf.” By requiring a valid passport or travel document for each beneficiary, the selection process will focus on each unique beneficiary rather than each registration. Each beneficiary may only be registered under one passport or travel document.

Passport or Travel Document Requirement

The registration system will continue to require a passport or travel document number. The system will no longer allow registrants to bypass the passport requirement by affirmatively indicating that a beneficiary does not have a passport. USCIS contends that the passport or travel document that is used for the registration should be the same document the beneficiary intends to use to enter the United States if selected in the H-1B registration process and issued an H-1B visa. There is some flexibility provided by the final rule, allowing USCIS to find a change in identifying information in some circumstances permissible on a discretionary basis. The final rule provides that such circumstances “could include, but are not limited to, a legal name change due to marriage, change in gender identity, or a change in passport number or expiration date due to renewal or replacement of a stolen passport, in between the time of registration and filing the petition.” If the use of a different passport or travel document is found to be impermissible, USCIS has the ability to deny or revoke any H-1B petitions if it determines that multiple registrations were submitted for the same beneficiary using different passport or travel document information.

Key Takeaways

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) first proposed a rule to modernize the H-1B program in October 2023, with a public comment period ending in December 2023 and a stipulation that DHS could “publish one or more final rules to codify the provisions proposed” after considering the public comments. With the completion of the first of the final rules, USCIS has moved quickly to implement the changes to the H-1B cap registration process for FY 2025. If the changes are successfully implemented, each individual beneficiary will have the same chance of selection after submission during the FY 2025 H-1B cap registration period of March 6 to March 22, 2024.

Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments and will publish updates on the Immigration blog as additional information becomes available.

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