Articles Posted in Specialty Occupations

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New fraud prevention mechanisms applied to the H-1B program in fiscal year 2025 have led to a dramatic decrease in the number of eligible registrations for H-1B cap visas, plunging to almost 40% from the past year.

These fraud prevention mechanisms were introduced with the final rule “Improving the H-1B Registration Selection Process and Program Integrity,” which changed the H-1B selection process to center around unique beneficiaries, preventing employers from gaming the system and unfairly increasing their chances of selection.

Starting this fiscal year, each beneficiary could only be registered under one passport or travel document to prevent the submission of multiple registrations.

Recent USCIS data suggests that these new changes to the H-1B system were successful at combating fraud. The agency recently released its selection statistics for the fiscal year 2025 H-1B cap season.

The data shows a significant drop in the number of eligible registrations for fiscal year 2025 totaling 470,342—representing a 38.6% reduction when compared to the 758,994 eligible registrations received in fiscal year 2024.

Of these eligible registrations (470,342), USCIS selected 114,017 beneficiaries, resulting in a total of 120,603 selected registrations for fiscal year 2025.

The number of workers who were registered did not change significantly at 442,000 when compared with 446,000 last year.

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If you’ve been a long-time follower of our blog, you’ll know that on January 29th the Department of State launched a pilot program giving certain H-1B applicants the ability to renew their visas without ever having to leave the United States.

The State Department accepted applications for this pilot program until April 1, 2024, granting domestic visa renewals for approximately 20,000 qualifying applicants, whose prior H-1B visas were issued by either Mission Canada (with an issuance date from January 1, 2020, through April 1, 2023) or by Mission India (with an issuance date of February 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021).

What was so exciting about the pilot program’s announcement was the government’s intention to potentially expand the scope of the domestic visa renewal program to more applicants and other visa categories.

In a recent Committee Liaison meeting with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), State Department representatives said that the pilot program was a resounding success. The pilot program benefitted thousands of workers and saw strong participation from big companies, including a broad spectrum of employers from the hospitality, retail, manufacturing, technology, finance, and academic sectors.

When asked whether the State Department could release statistics about the program, representatives responded that such data is not yet available but revealed that the average turnaround time for approved applications was under two weeks.

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We are reporting some breaking news for the H-1B FY 2025 cap season. This afternoon, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it will be extending the H-1B electronic registration period for the FY 2025 cap until noon eastern time, Monday, March 25, 2024.


Why the Change?


The H-1B FY 2025 electronic registration process which began on March 6th has been plagued by technical issues and system outages which has caused problems for registrants attempting to submit their registrations. Due to these issues, USCIS has decided to extend the electronic registration period to provide relief to those experiencing difficulties.

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In this blog post, we share with you some new updates for the H-1B cap season for fiscal year 2025 and beyond.


 H-1B Cap Initial Registration Period FY 2025


USCIS has announced that the initial registration period for the FY 2025 H-1B cap season will open at noon Eastern time on March 6, 2024, and run through noon Eastern time on March 22, 2024.

During the registration period, prospective petitioners and their representatives, must use a USCIS online account to register each beneficiary electronically for the selection process and pay the associated registration fee for each beneficiary.

For more information on the H-1B Cap Season, visit H-1B Cap Season webpage.


Organizational Accounts and Online Filing for Forms I-129 and I-907


On February 28, 2024, USCIS will launch new organizational accounts in the USCIS online account webpage that will allow multiple people within an organization and their legal representatives to collaborate on and prepare H-1B registrations, H-1B petitions, and any associated Form I-907, online.

Also on February 28, USCIS will launch online filing of Form I-129 and associated Form I-907 for non-cap H-1B petitions.


Online Filing of H-1B Cap Petitions and I-907 Starting April 1, 2024


On April 1, 2024, USCIS will begin accepting online filing for H-1B cap petitions and associated Forms I-907 for petitioners whose registrations have been selected.

Petitioners will continue to have the option of filing a paper Form I-129 H-1B petition and any associated Form I-907 if they prefer. However, during the initial launch of organizational accounts, users will not be able to link paper-filed Forms I-129 and I-907 to their online accounts.

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The rumors are true. For the first time in nearly two decades, the Department of State (DOS) will process domestic visa renewals for certain H-1B visa applicants without requiring them to leave the United States.

This is all part of a new pilot program starting January 29, 2024, through April 1, 2024, that will allow 20,000 qualified H-1B nonimmigrant workers the opportunity to renew their visas domestically.

The Department of State hopes the pilot program will reduce heavy backlogs at more than 200 consular sections worldwide by making available an increased number of interview appointments for other visa categories, especially first-time travelers applying for business and tourism visas who require in-person interviews.

At the same time, DOS seeks to alleviate the burden on U.S. companies that employ H-1B workers by streamlining the visa renewal process.

The Department will accept applications for the pilot program starting January 29, 2024 on its webpage.

After the initial application period which ends on April 1st the Department will expand the scope of the program.


What are the Requirements to Participate?


Participation in this pilot will be limited to applicants who(se):

  1. Are seeking to renew an H–1B visa; during the pilot phase, the Department will not process any other visa classifications;
  2. Prior H–1B visa that is being renewed was issued by Mission Canada with an issuance date from January 1, 2020, through April 1, 2023; or by Mission India with an issuance date of February 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021;
  3. Are not subject to a nonimmigrant visa issuance fee (Note: this is commonly referred to as a “reciprocity fee”);
  4. Are eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview requirement;
  5. Have submitted ten fingerprints to the Department in connection with a previous visa application;
  6. Prior visa does not include a “clearance received” annotation;
  7. Do not have a visa ineligibility that would require a waiver prior to visa issuance;
  8. Have an approved and unexpired H–1B petition;
  9. Were most recently admitted to the United States in H–1B status;
  10. Are currently maintaining H–1B status in the United States;
  11. Period of authorized admission in H–1B status has not expired; and
  12. Intend to reenter the United States in H–1B status after a temporary period abroad.

Applicants that fall outside of this scope are not eligible to apply for a visa domestically.

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This Friday afternoon, we share with you some interesting new insights revealed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services regarding the recent H-1B electronic registration period for fiscal year 2024.

USCIS has disclosed that this H-1B season, it received 758,994 eligible registrations for FY 2024, breaking its previous record of 474,421 eligible registrations just the previous year.

This represents a 60% increase in eligible registrations, with 284,573 more registrants in comparison to last year’s H-1B season.

In terms of actual selections, USCIS selected a total of 110,791 registrations to meet the annual H-1B numerical cap of 85,000 visas this H-1B season. When crunching the numbers, registrants had about a 14.6% chance of being selected, when compared to last year when the chance of selection sat at 26.9%.

This H-1B season, USCIS saw a dramatic increase in the number of registrations submitted, in comparison to prior years. Across the board, there was also an increase in the number of registrations submitted on behalf of beneficiaries with multiple registrations, and the number of registrations submitted on behalf of unique beneficiaries with only one registration. USCIS saw upward trends in the FY 2022 and FY 2023 H-1B registration periods as well.

From looking at the chart below for H-1B fiscal years 2021-2014, one can see that the competition has become greater and greater for H-1B visas year by year, however FY 2024 stands out in particular as the most competitive H-1B season overall.


This chart shows registration and selection numbers for fiscal years 2021-2024 (as of April 24, 2023).

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Specifically, the selection rate this H-1B season was significantly lower than all previous H-1B seasons. According to USCIS, there were fewer registrations selected this season, because of higher demand for Chile/Singapore H-1B visa (cap-exempt), and projections showing a higher rate of filings from employers whose registrations were selected in the cap lottery.

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We have great news for H-1B visa registrants! Today, March 27, 2023, USCIS announced that it has received enough electronic registrations to reach the FY 2024 H-1B visa cap—just 10 days after the H-1B electronic registration period closed on March 17, 2023.

USCIS randomly selected from among registrations that were properly submitted to meet the 65,000/20,000 annual numerical limitations for the regular cap and advanced degree exemption.

Petitioners who have been selected have been notified of their selection via their myUSCIS online accounts.


Notification of Selection


Now that the selection process has been completed, USCIS has sent electronic notices to all registrants with selected registrations that are eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition on behalf of the individual named in the notice within the filing period indicated on the notice.

Account holders who submitted the selected registration have been notified of selection via email or text message stating that an action has been taken on their myUSCIS online account. Account holders can log in to see the full notice and determine whether they have been selected.

A registrant’s USCIS online account will show one of the following statuses for each registration:

  • Submitted: The registration has been submitted and is eligible for selection. If the initial selection process has been completed, this registration remains eligible, unless subsequently invalidated, for selection in any subsequent selections for the fiscal year for which it was submitted.
  • Selected: Selected to file an H-1B cap petition.
  • Not Selected: Not selected – not eligible to file an H-1B cap petition based on this registration.
  • Denied: Multiple registrations were submitted by or on behalf of the same registrant for the same beneficiary. If denied as a duplicate registration, all registrations submitted by or on behalf of the same registrant for this beneficiary for the fiscal year are invalid.
  • Invalidated-Failed Payment: A registration was submitted but the payment method was declined, not reconciled, disputed, or otherwise invalid.

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The H-1B registration period is now in full swing. Employers will have the opportunity to complete the electronic registration process from now until noon Eastern Time on March 17, 2023.

The question on everyone’s minds is whether the massive tech layoffs in Silicon Valley will decrease demand for H-1B visa registrations. Tens of thousands of employees at Google, Amazon, and Meta, have been laid off since early January, leaving big tech companies to adapt to their changing circumstances.

However, demand for high-skilled foreign workers remains high. Companies across the United States will compete for a chance to win selection just as in past years. It is expected that demand for the H-1B visa lottery program will grow this year, because the labor market still demands highly skilled workers with skills in the STEM fields.

Once the H-1B registration period has closed on March 17th the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will complete a random lottery to reach the annual cap of 85,000 H-1B visas.

Since the implementation of the online registration process in 2020, H-1B registration submissions have far exceeded the number of available visas each year. As an example, in FY 2022 employers submitted roughly 308,613 H-1B registrations (selecting 131,970), and by 2023 this figure increased to 483,927 registrations (selecting 127,600).

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In this blog post we share very exciting news for H-1B and L visa holders working in the United States.

The State Department is planning to resume the process of domestic visa revalidation in certain categories, like H-1B and L-1 visas, through the launch of a new pilot program that will soon be implemented later this year, specifically benefitting H-1B specialty occupation workers and L-1 visa holders who are currently required to travel abroad for renewal of their visas.

This move will restore stateside visa renewals, a practice that was previously discontinued by the government in 2004. Previously, certain categories of non-immigrant visa holders, particularly H-1B workers, could renew their visas and be stamped domestically while inside the United States. However, the government stopped allowing domestic renewal of these visas, requiring foreign workers to go out of the country and make an appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country to receive an H-1B extension stamped in their passport.

The pilot program when fully implemented will benefit H-1B and L-1 workers allowing them to receive their stamping inside the United States without having to leave the country. This will help reduce the visa backlogs at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide.

Additionally, the pilot program will potentially benefit tens of thousands of foreign workers, especially technology workers from India, where Consular operations are some of the busiest in the world.

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