USCIS Announces Updates to the Fiscal Year 2025 H-1B Cap Lottery Registration

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced updates regarding the Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 H-1B cap registration process. USCIS instituted significant changes in the lottery selection process to streamline the H-1B visa program, ensuring fairness, integrity, and efficacy in the allocation of these crucial visas.

USCIS FY 2025 H-1B Cap Registration Process:

On April 1, 2024, USCIS concluded the initial registration selection process for the FY 2025 H-1B cap. A notable highlight was the selection of 114,017 beneficiaries out of 120,603 registrations received. Interestingly, this year saw a decrease in the total number of registrations compared to the preceding fiscal year, FY 2024. However, the number of unique beneficiaries and employers remained relatively consistent. This decline in total registrations is due to USCIS’ bar on multiple employers filing registrations for the same beneficiary, which had led to abuse of the system.

Impact of Lottery Overhaul:

A significant regulatory change introduced by USCIS in January altered the lottery selection process, shifting the focus to individual beneficiaries rather than the sheer number of registrations. This overhaul was designed to address the proliferation of duplicate submissions observed in previous years. As a result, the number of eligible registrations for workers with multiple submissions plummeted by over 88% compared to the previous year. This substantial reduction signals a notable deterrent against attempts to manipulate the system through duplicate entries.

Key Reminders and Changes for FY 2025:

  • New Fees and Form Edition: USCIS has adjusted fees for immigration applications and petitions, effective April 1, 2024. Additionally, a new edition of Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, is now required for filings postmarked on or after this date.
  • Online Filing and Organizational Accounts: USCIS has introduced online organizational accounts, facilitating collaborative preparation of H-1B registrations and petitions. Online filing for H-1B cap petitions is now available, streamlining the submission process and offering convenience for legal practitioners.
  • H-1B Form I-129 Filing Location Change: Starting April 1, 2024, all paper-based H-1B petitions must be filed at USCIS lockbox locations, eliminating direct filings at service centers. Immigration attorneys should take note of this procedural change to ensure compliance with filing requirements.
  • Receipt Notice Delays: Acknowledging potential delays in issuing Form I-797 receipt notices due to increased filing volumes during cap filing periods, USCIS advises against submitting multiple petitions for the same beneficiary. Immigration attorneys should exercise caution and patience in navigating these potential delays to avoid complications for their clients.

The USCIS updates regarding the FY 2025 H-1B cap registration process and lottery overhaul carry significant implications for employers, beneficiaries, and immigration attorneys. By implementing beneficiary-centric selection processes and enforcing stringent measures against abuse, USCIS aims to ensure that the H-1B program maintains its integrity while meeting the evolving needs of the U.S. labor market. Immigration attorneys play a vital role in guiding their clients through these updates and ensuring compliance with the latest regulations, thereby facilitating a smooth and successful H-1B petition process.

Please contact Attorney Monique Kornfeld for legal advice about filing H-1B cases selected in the H-1B registration lottery in March 2024.