H-1B Registration: An Overview of the Application Process with Recent Updates

Ananya Shroff
4 Min Read

Navigating the H-1B registration process in the United States involves considerations of recent changes, encompassing alterations in the lottery process, online filing procedures, and increases in USCIS petition filing fees. It is crucial to be aware of these modifications announced by the Department of Homeland Security, as they will come into effect ahead of the upcoming H-1B lottery opening, scheduled from March 6, 2024, to March 22, 2024.

The H1B visa, designed for foreign workers in speciality occupations requiring theoretical or technical expertise, is a non-immigrant visa (File Photo). The H1B visa, designed for foreign workers in speciality occupations requiring theoretical or technical expertise, is a non-immigrant visa (File Photo).

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H-1B Visa Lottery Changes: Following the issuance of the Final Rule by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to the Biden administration’s Proposed Rule on October 23, 2023, titled “Improving the H-1B Registration Selection Process and Program Integrity,” several key provisions have been introduced:

  1. A beneficiary-centric selection process has been established, limiting each beneficiary (employee) to be selected only once in each lottery, contrary to past lotteries allowing multiple selections.
  2. Start date flexibility is granted for certain cap-subject H-1B petitions, with preferences for start dates after October 1 of the relevant fiscal year.
  3. H-1B integrity measures have been introduced, necessitating valid passport/travel document information in lottery registration and enhancing DHS authority to deny petitions involving fraudulent statements.

“The H-1B Lottery” This online registration process impacts new H-1B visas subject to the annual cap of 65,000 visas (Regular cap) and an additional 20,000 visas for “specialty worker” beneficiaries with advanced degrees (US Masters cap). Employers will complete an online registration form and pay a $10 registration fee for each beneficiary. Notably, there will be no H-1B cap on petitions filed by institutions of higher education or related nonprofit entities.

H-1B Online Organizational Account Creation: USCIS has introduced online “organizational accounts” starting February 28, 2024. These accounts empower petitioning employers and legal representatives to manage H-1B lottery registrations, petitions, and premium processing forms entirely online. This initiative marks a significant step towards the digitization of immigration processes.

USCIS Fee Increases: USCIS is set to implement widespread filing fee increases for most visa petition categories on April 1, 2024, citing budgetary constraints.

Common filing fee increases include:

  • Form I-129 L petitions increase from $460 to $1,385
  • Form I-129 O petitions increase from $460 to $1,055
  • Form I-539 dependent applications increase from $370 to $470
  • Form I-140 Immigrant Visa Petitions increase from $700 to $715
  • Form I-485 Adjust Status applications increase from $1,140 to $1,440
  • Form I-765 Applications for Employment Authorization increase from $410 up to $520

A blanket $600 fee will cover burgeoning asylum administration costs. The H-1B lottery registration fee increase from $10 to $215 will not take effect until the H-1B lottery held in March 2025. Additionally, USCIS previously announced a final rule adjusting premium processing fees, increasing filing fees for Form I-907, effective February 26, 2024, with the premium processing fee for H-1B and other nonimmigrant visa petitions filed via Form I-129 raised from $2,500 to $2,805.

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