February 12, 2024Client Alert

H-1B Registration Window Opens March 6, 2024

United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that new, cap-subject H-1B registrations may be submitted from noon Eastern Time on March 6, 2024, through noon Eastern Time on March 22, 2024. This is the only time during the year when cap-subject employers may apply for a new H-1B classification for an employee. We expect the demand for H-1B visas to remain high this year due to numerous factors, including staffing challenges across industries.

This is the fifth year that USCIS is utilizing the electronic “registration” process for H-1B petitioners. Under this system, employers who would like to file an H-1B cap-subject petition for the fiscal year 2025 cap (a start date of October 1, 2024) must ensure that they have an active online account with USCIS. Employers new to the H-1B registration process will be able to set up a new account starting February 28, 2024. Using their online account, employers will electronically register and pay a $10 H-1B registration fee for each employee. This initial registration requires basic information about the company and each requested employee.

In the past, the registration system allowed employees to have multiple chances at the lottery if multiple employers filed registrations on their behalf. This year, employees will each have only one chance at the lottery, regardless of the number of employer registrations submitted on their behalf. After the registration window closes on March 22, USCIS will conduct the random lottery and notify employers if they have been selected to file H-1B petitions on behalf of their registered employees. We anticipate that USCIS will notify selected registrants by March 31, 2024.

The number of available new H-1B petitions is capped at 65,000 per fiscal year (“regular cap”), with an additional 20,000 slots available to foreign nationals holding advanced degrees (master’s degrees or higher) from U.S. institutions. For the last several years, USCIS received significantly more petitions than this cap, resulting in a lottery. To ensure that H-1B beneficiaries are included within the registration process, we recommend that employers make hiring decisions for foreign national workers and job applicants as soon as possible. Most employees in F-1 (student) status need new H-1B petitions filed on their behalf, allowing them to transition to H-1B employment and avoid gaps in employment authorization. We also recommend H-1B status for employees in E-2, O-1, or TN status who would like to pursue permanent resident status in the United States.

The H-1B cap applies to employees who have never been counted against the cap. Therefore, most individuals who currently hold H-1B status, whether with you or another employer, need not worry about the annual H-1B cap. The H-1B cap also does not apply to employees of cap-exempt employers, including: (i) colleges and universities; (ii) nonprofit organizations related to or affiliated with a nonprofit college or university; or (iii) nonprofit or governmental research organizations.

Please notify us of any employees who may need new H-1Bs as soon as possible to allow sufficient time for registration filings.

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