H-1B visa lottery selection for FY 2025: US agency USCIS gears up

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is preparing to conduct a lottery to select H-1B visa beneficiaries, including the master’s cap for advanced US degree holders. This comes with the closure of the initial H-1B sign-up period for the fiscal year 2025 on March 25.

The USCIS extended the registration deadline for H-1B visas for FY 2025 by three days, from March 22 to March 25, due to a technical glitch.

The agency announced that it will notify all prospective petitioners with selected beneficiaries, indicating their eligibility to file an H-1B cap-subject petition.

Because the demand for H-1B visas is much more than what’s on offer, the US agency uses a lottery system.

Companies file more H-1B applications than the annual limit of 85,000, and the USCIS uses a lottery to decide the beneficiaries.

In recent years, Indian tech professionals have dominated the H-1B cap-subject visas, securing about 70% of the 85,000 visas available, including the 20,000 master’s cap for advanced US degree holders, according to Forbes.

In 2022, Indians secured 77% of the 320,000 approved H-1B visas. This year, the USCIS anticipates around 350,000 applicants, a decrease attributed to new measures against fraud.

Last year, over 400,000 out of 759,000 registrations were duplicated.

The USCIS filing fee for beneficiaries on H-1B petitions will rise by 70%, while those on L-1 petitions will see a 201% increase, and individuals on O-1 petitions will face a 129% increase, according to the reports.

H-1B VISA FILING LOCATION CHANGES

Starting April 1, USCIS is changing the filing location for H-1B Form I-129 to a lockbox. This means that H-1B and H-1B1 (HSC) Form I-129 petitions must no longer be filed at the USCIS service centres.

Instead, all paper-based petitions must be filed at USCIS lockbox locations, including cap, non-cap, and cap-exempt H-1B filings.

The USCIS emphasised that any H-1B or H-1B1 (HSC) petitions received at a USCIS service centre on or after April 1, 2024, will be rejected without a grace period provided. To avoid rejection, petitioners must ensure that their petitions are filed at the correct location.

Additionally, USCIS introduced new online organisational accounts ‘MyUSCIS’ on February 28, allowing multiple individuals within an organisation and their legal representatives to collaborate on and prepare H-1B registrations, petitions, and associated Form I-907.

USCIS also launched an online filing for non-cap H-1B petitions on March 25, with an online filing for H-1B cap petitions set to begin on April 1 for selected petitioners.

FEE ADJUSTMENTS AND NEW FORM VERSIONS

Furthermore, USCIS reminded petitioners about the adjustment of fees for most immigration applications and petitions, effective April 1, 2024.

Petitions postmarked on, or after this date must include the new fees, with no grace period provided for filing the new version of Form I-129.

As USCIS transitions to lockbox and online filing for H-1B petitions, prepaid mailers will no longer be used for communication or final notices regarding H-1B or H-1B1 (HSC) petitions.

Instead, USCIS will automate the process of printing and mailing H-1B petition approval notices via first-class mail. MyUSCIS account holders will also receive notifications of case status changes via email or text message.

The postmark date of a filing will be used to determine the correct form version and fees, while the received date will apply for regulatory or statutory filing deadlines.

Published By:

Girish Kumar Anshul

Published On:

Mar 28, 2024

Leave a Comment