Citizenship and Immigration Services H-1B Lottery

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Last year, a would-be H-1B nonimmigrant employee had about a 14% chance of their registration being selected in the annual lottery. In response to backlash from U.S. employers following the extraordinary low selection rate for FY 2024, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acknowledged the H-1B cap registration process, implemented in 2020, allows for misuse and fraud and proposed changes to increase fairness and efficiency.[1] Specifically, DHS noted some employers and/or beneficiaries have developed schemes for multiple submissions for the same beneficiary. Last year, of the 780,000 total registrations for the H-1B cap, approximately 52%, or 408,000, were for beneficiaries with multiple registrations.[2] 

In October of 2023, DHS published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking aimed at modernizing the H-1B specialty occupation worker system by “streamlining eligibility requirements, improving program efficiency, providing greater benefits and flexibilities for employers and workers, and strengthening integrity measures.”[3] If implemented, among other things the final rule would change the system from selecting by individual employer registration to selecting by unique beneficiary. Under “Beneficiary Centric Selection,” a registrant-employee can still have more than one registration; however, the selection would be based on each unique beneficiary so the beneficiary will go through the registration once – no matter how many employers have entered on his or her behalf. If selected, all entities that registered the same beneficiary will be notified and eligible to file an H-1B petition on the beneficiary’s behalf. The beneficiary would then have greater autonomy in selecting an offer of employment. Comments on the proposed rule closed in December, and we await an announcement for the final rule to be implemented prior to the H-1B FY2025 registration process beginning in March.

In addition, USCIS announced on January 12, 2024, online filing for I-129 H-1B petitions and H-1B I-907 Premium Processing Service will begin in February.[4] USCIS will make use of “organizational accounts” (by employer) to permit both FY 2025 H-1B cap registrations (and H-1B filings) as well as routine H-1B extensions, amendments and change of employer petitions. Within the organizational account, multiple individuals within an organization can collaborate on and prepare H-1B registrations, H-1B petition filings and an associated request for premium processing, if desired. USCIS anticipates this system will bring the entire H-1B lifecycle electronic, “from registration, if applicable, to our final decision and transmission to the Department of State.”[5] On January 23 and 24, USCIS will host two national engagements on organizational accounts to help guide employers and legal representatives through the process. 

Efforts to correct some of the shortfalls of the current H-1B registration process, as well as allow for online filings of H-1B nonimmigrant petitions, are significant steps forward in streamlining the U.S. immigration system and reducing burdens on U.S. employers to attract the best global talent.

[1] https://www.aila.org/aila-files/D3C161E8-8680-4390-8E77-B1966F1069B3/23060709.pdf

[2] https://www.uscis.gov/working-in-the-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-and-fashion-models/h-1b-electronic-registration-process

[3] https://www.dhs.gov/news/2023/10/20/dhs-issues-proposed-rule-modernize-h-1b-specialty-occupation-worker-program

[4] https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/news-releases/uscis-to-launch-organizational-accounts-enabling-online-collaboration-and-submission-of-h-1b

[5] https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/news-releases/uscis-to-launch-organizational-accounts-enabling-online-collaboration-and-submission-of-h-1b



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