It is H-1B Cap Season again for Fiscal Year 2025. Like in prior years, there will be a two-step process – the registration step and then, if the registration is selected in the H-1B cap lottery, the petition step.
Now is the time to start getting ready for the registration process and to review any potential H-1B petition issues.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will again use the electronic registration tool as part of the H-1B lottery process. The 2019 regulations introduced this electronic registration process, requiring employers first to file registrations seeking the opportunity to file H-1B Petitions for the beneficiaries in the selected registrations. Last year, almost 781,000,000 registrations were filed for the 85,000 H-1B cap visas available (20,000 slots are allocated to persons with advanced degrees from eligible U.S. institutions of higher education).
USCIS has yet to announce when the H-1B lottery will open. Last year, registration was open from noon Eastern Time March 1, 2023, through noon Eastern Time March 17, 2023. We expect the FY25 period to be similar.
We are also waiting to see whether the selection process will change. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a proposed rule in October that would modernize the H-1B program. If that proposed rule is made final and ready to be implemented before the registration period begins, then the process could change. It is therefore imperative that you have all your H-1B filings ready to go so they can be adapted to any new processes.
The proposed selection process seeks to change from one that incentivizes filing multiple registrations to one that is beneficiary-based. Each beneficiary under the proposed rule would be entered into the selection process only once, no matter how many registrations were submitted on the beneficiary’s behalf. The purpose is to eliminate the advantage to beneficiaries with multiple registrations filed on their behalf and to address fraud discovered during the FY24 H-1B registration where employers colluded to submit multiple registrations for the same Beneficiary.
Registrations will be for periods of employment that begin October 1, 2024.
The online registration form will request basic information from the employer and employee and is expected to be identical to last year’s form. The information requested for registration includes:
- The employer’s name, Federal Employer Identification Number, and primary office address.
- The name, job title, daytime phone, and email address of the employer’s authorized representative.
- The beneficiary’s full name, date of birth, country of birth, country of citizenship, gender, and passport number.
- Whether the beneficiary has earned a master’s degree or higher degree from a U.S. institution and the name of the institution.
Under the current system, if the number of registrations exceeds the annual cap of 85,000 visas, the USCIS will make random selections, but only from among the candidates who have been registered. If there are not enough registrations, the USCIS may continue accepting submitted registrations or open a new registration period. If the random selection process is necessary, the USCIS will notify those who filed registrations whether their registration was selected.
Last year, USCIS notified selectees on March 31, 2023. We again expect to receive notification at the end of March.
Planning for this year’s H-1B Cap is the first step in the selection strategy to ensure accurate and timely filing. Employers should do the following:
- Identify H-1B candidates. Typically, these may include the following: Employees working in F-1 student status with an employment authorization document (STEM or non-STEM), or derivative H-4 spouse with employment authorization document. TN NAFTA or E-3 Australian national professional workers who may want to pursue permanent residence in the United States (it is legally preferable first to be in H-1B status before filing for permanent residence). L-1B multinational professional level specialized knowledge employees.
- Review and finalize job offers, descriptions and salaries.
- Ensure there is a direct connection between the candidate’s educational level, type of degree and the offered job duties.
- Gather the relevant documents needed to prepare the H-1B petition.
We strongly recommend that you contact us as soon as possible and before March 1, 2024 so that we can assist you with the H-1B registration process.