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H1B FY 2025 Lottery: Get Ready for Changes

USCIS will soon be announcing the opening of the fiscal year (FY) 2025 H-1B Lottery. We are anticipating that the process will be similar to years past, whereby employers seeking to file FY 2025 H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first electronically register and pay a registration fee for each electronic registration they submit to USCIS.

Expected Changes: USCIS announced on January 12, 2024, that they will be changing the registration process for non-cap petitions.  Non-cap Employers can now start entity accounts, which would allow a team of people authorized by the employer, to act in concert with the attorney to prepare and submit H-1B registrations.

The service expects to release the feature allowing for electronic filing of Form I-129 for H-1B and Form I-907 for Premium Processing sometime in February.

Paper-based petitions will transition from filing with the service center to filing with the lockbox in an effort to streamline the process and reduce costs.

H-1B Cap and Lottery Registration Process

The H-1B is available to employers seeking to hire a “specialized knowledge” foreign national worker. “Specialized knowledge” is defined as a position that requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in the field to be able to carry out the day-to-day duties of the position. The employee must also be paid the prevailing rate of pay for the occupation.

Under the rules, 65,000 new H-1B’s are issued each fiscal year, which begins on October 1, with an additional 20,000 for graduates of U.S. master’s degree programs. USCIS has historically accepted applications for cap-subject petitions beginning on April 1.

USCIS utilizes a lottery registration process for H-1B cap numbers, which normally opens in early March, as there is more demand than there are visa numbers issued. Once the registration period closes, USCIS randomly selects a sufficient number of registrations filed during the registration window to meet the H-1B cap for the next fiscal year. Registrants are only allowed to submit one registration per beneficiary in any fiscal year.

Expected Changes

In October 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) to amend the current regulations to modernize the H-1B visa program. These proposed changes include:

  1. Amending current regulations regarding H-1B visas to revise the regulatory definition of “specialty occupation,” expand eligibility for H-1B cap-exempt petitions, codify its deference policy, and clarify requirements for the H-1B petition filing.
  2. Extending the cap-gap extension until April 1 of the fiscal year (FY) and allowing employers to request a start date on or after October 1 for cap-subject H-1B petitions.
  3. Selecting registrants by a unique beneficiary rather than registration under the H-1B lottery and eliminate the ability for related entities to submit multiple registrations on behalf of the same beneficiary.
  4. Proposing several measures to improve program integrity, such as ensuring there is a bona fide job offer for a specialty occupation role, compliance with site visits, and third-party placement.

Proposed Fee Increases:

In addition to the above proposed changes, the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) received the final rule containing the new fees on January 8, 2024. Based on past fee rule increases, once the rule is published in the Federal Register, it will likely become effective in 60 days.

Some of the price changes could include:

  • I-129 H-1B: Current ($460) New ($780)
  • H-1B Registration Fee: Current ($10) New ($215)
  • Premium Processing: USCIS has already announced the implementation of increased fees for petitions filed AFTER February 26, 2024. The Premium Processing fee is now $2800 (up from $2500)

How Can We Help?

Employers should contact the KTC Immigration team as soon as possible with information about the employees who should be registered in the H-1B lottery. We will assess employees’ eligibility, confirm the position qualifies as a specialty occupation, and then prepare the registration to be submitted on the applicable date.

We urge you to contact us at the earliest possible date. Due to the significant demand for our assistance last year, we were unable to assist employers who wanted to petition or add registrants after March 20, 2023. We anticipate having a similar cut off this year as well.

If the registration is selected, we will prepare and file the formal H-1B petition with USCIS. Information provided about the employee should include job title, duties and proposed salary, as well as the passport ID page of the employee and copies of their diploma/transcripts.

Once we are notified of the employees to be entered in the lottery, we will send a detailed registration checklist for each employee.