The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced the H-1B cap initial registration period for the fiscal year 2025, which starts at noon Eastern Time (ET) on March 6, 2024, and ends at noon ET on March 22, 2024. This registration window is crucial for employers to file H-1B petitions subject to the annual cap.
The H-1B visa program is designed to allow companies in the United States to employ foreign workers in occupations that necessitate highly specialized knowledge, typically evidenced by a bachelor's degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. Cap-subject H-1B visas are limited to 65,000 visas each fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 visas available to beneficiaries with a master's degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.
To participate in the H-1B cap season, employers must first complete an online registration process for each employee they wish to sponsor. Currently, a $10 non-refundable fee is required for each registration submitted. During this process, employers provide basic information about their company and each requested worker.
After the registration period closes, USCIS will conduct a random selection process (commonly referred to as the "lottery") if the number of registrations exceeds the H-1B cap limits. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition. This year, USCIS will change the selection process from past lotteries, where it will prioritize the selection of the H-1B employee (the beneficiary).
This beneficiary centered approach means that the lottery will select from the pool of individual beneficiaries, rather than the pool of registrations filed by employers. Starting from the fiscal year 2025 registration period, USCIS will mandate the submission of valid passport or travel document details for each beneficiary. This requirement is to verify that the passport or travel document, intended for use by the beneficiary for U.S. entry upon H-1B visa approval, aligns with the one registered. Importantly, each beneficiary will be identified by their passport or travel document in the registration system.
Following the selection process, USCIS will notify account holders by March 31, 2024, about the status of each registration. Selected registrants will be given a specific filing window to submit their complete H-1B cap-subject petitions. If the employer fails to file the petition on time, it will lose the H-1B visa number and the petition will be rejected.
The H-1B cap season is a highly competitive process that requires careful planning and timely action. Employers looking to sponsor H-1B workers should stay informed of any updates from USCIS and adhere strictly to the registration and petition filing timelines. With proper preparation and understanding of the process, employers can navigate the H-1B cap season effectively to meet their hiring needs.
This article is provided as an educational service and is not legal advice. Consult with an attorney for your specific circumstances. For a comprehensive evaluation of your immigration situation and options, you are invited to call us at 214-494-8033 or complete our contact form.