The FY 2025 H-1B cap registration period will open at noon ET on March 6, 2024 and will close at noon ET on March 22, 2024. All cap registrations must be drafted and submitted online during this period. A beneficiary-centric H-1B cap registration system will be in effect for the FY 2025 H-1B cap registration period, a change intended to deter misuse of the registration process. USCIS’s new organizational account system will go live at noon ET on February 28, 2024. Prospective H-1B employers creating new organizational accounts or upgrading existing accounts may do so beginning February 28 and throughout the registration period. After registration closes, USCIS will conduct the FY 2025 H-1B cap selection and notify all sponsoring employers of selected beneficiaries by March 31, 2024. On April 1, 2024, USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions. The petition filing period will remain open for a minimum of 90 days.
Sponsoring employers may submit registrations for the FY 2025 H-1B cap between noon ET on March 6, 2024, and noon ET on March 22, 2024, according to USCIS. As in past years, USCIS will use a random computerized lottery to select the registrations for which an H-1B cap petition may be submitted. However, this year, USCIS will switch to a beneficiary-centric H-1B cap registration selection process rather than the registration-centric process that has been in effect since 2020, as discussed further below.
In addition, USCIS’s new organizational account system will go live at noon ET on February 28, 2024. Prospective H-1B employers will be able to create new accounts in the system and existing “registrant” account holders will be able to upgrade their existing accounts to an organizational account beginning on that date and continuing through the end of the registration period on March 22.
A timeline of the FY 2025 H-1B cap process is outlined below.
Registering for the FY 2025 H-1B cap; new organizational account system
USCIS will once again use an online registration system to conduct the H-1B cap selection. An employer account is necessary whether your organization will work with immigration counsel to submit registrations or will submit registrations on its own behalf. Your organization’s accounts must be maintained by an employee authorized to sign immigration benefit requests for your organization.
As we have reported previously, USCIS is unveiling a new organizational account system that will allow multiple people within an organization and their immigration counsel to collaborate on and prepare H-1B registrations. If your organization will be represented by immigration counsel during the registration process, you or your attorney will be able to associate your organization’s account with its attorneys’ accounts.
USCIS has not yet enabled the new organizational account system for the FY 2025 H-1B cap season. Existing user accounts may be upgraded and new organizational accounts may be created starting at noon ET on February 28. Because the new system is complex, your organization and its counsel will need to carefully plan in advance before upgrading or creating new accounts. USCIS is expected to issue further instructions on the revamped system in the coming weeks.
Cap registration opens March 6, 2024
USCIS will open the cap registration period on Wednesday, March 6, 2024 at noon ET. Employers and their immigration counsel can begin to draft, review, sign, and submit cap registrations at that time. The USCIS system will not accept drafts or registrations before March 6.
The registration period will close on Friday, March 22 at noon ET. All registrations for the FY 2025 cap must be submitted by this time. Late registrations will not be accepted.
The fee for registrations during the FY 2025 will remain $10 per beneficiary. A fee of $215 per beneficiary, introduced in USCIS’s new fee regulation, will not take effect until the FY 2026 cap season.
The H-1B cap lottery: selection by beneficiary rather than registration
This year, as part of DHS’s efforts to prevent misuse, the H-1B cap registration system will switch to beneficiary-centric selection, rather than the registration-centric selection method that had been in effect since 2020. Under the beneficiary-centric system, a foreign national’s passport or valid travel document will be required for an H-1B cap registration submission on their behalf. The passport or travel document will be used as the beneficiary’s unique identifier, serving as the means for selection in the H-1B cap lottery. Each beneficiary will only be entered into the H-1B cap lottery selection process once, regardless of how many registrations were submitted on their behalf.
As in past years, USCIS is expected to receive far more H-1B cap registrations than needed to meet the annual quota of 85,000. At the end of the registration period, USCIS will conduct two lotteries to select enough beneficiaries to meet the 85,000 annual cap. The first lottery will include all registered beneficiaries and will select enough to meet the regular cap of 65,000. The second lottery includes registered U.S. advanced-degree holders who were not chosen in the first lottery, and would select enough to meet the advanced-degree cap exemption of 20,000.
USCIS plans to notify employers and immigration counsel of winning beneficiaries by March 31, 2024. If a beneficiary is selected, each potential employer that filed a registration on that beneficiary’s behalf will be notified and each of those employers will be eligible to file an H-1B petition for the beneficiary. USCIS will provide a selection notice for each winning beneficiary. The selection notice is valid for the named beneficiary only; employers cannot substitute beneficiaries.
The petition filing period and USCIS fees
On Monday, April 1, 2024, USCIS will begin to accept H-1B cap petitions for selected beneficiaries. The petition filing period must remain open for at least 90 days, so the period would close no earlier than June 30, 2024.
Employers can file their petitions at any time during this period, but some cases might need to be filed by a specific date within the filing window. For example, an F-1 student with an optional practical training (OPT) employment authorization document (EAD) that expires before the end of the filing period must have their cap petition filed before the OPT EAD expiration date to ensure cap-gap work authorization benefits through the October 1 start date of their H-1B cap petition. Your organization should work with your immigration counsel to identify beneficiaries with time-sensitive filing needs.
For the first time, USCIS will offer the option of online filing of cap and non-cap H-1B petitions and associated premium processing requests. However, because online filing is untested in the scope and scale needed for the high volume of H-1B petitions, will require manual data entry, and has other limitations and potential risks, employers should carefully consider with their immigration counsel whether it is advisable. Hard-copy submission remains USCIS’s predominant method of case filing.
As a reminder, employers will be subject to higher H-1B petition and premium processing fees. USCIS is also extending the premium processing adjudication period from calendar days to business days, a change that will effectively prolong premium processing adjudications by approximately one week.
For the FY 2025 H-1B cap season, employers will be subject to the following new fees for H-1B registration and H-1B cap petition-related fees:
|FY 2025 H-1B REGISTRATION & H-1B CAP PETITION-RELATED USCIS FEESEffective for cases postmarked or electronically filed on or after April 1, 2024, except where indicated
|Form I-129 H-1B
|Form I-129 H-1B – Small Employers* and Nonprofits**
|Standard Asylum Program Fee
(applicable to I-129 petitions)
|Asylum Program Fee – Small Employers* (applicable to I-129 petitions)
|Asylum Program Fee – Nonprofits**(applicable to I-129 petitions)
|Form I-907 (effective February 26, 2024)(if requesting premium processing service)
*Small employers are defined as firms/individuals having 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees in the United States, including any affiliates and subsidiaries.
**Nonprofits are organizations classified under the Internal Revenue Code as Section 501(c)(3) or organizations considered governmental research organizations under H-1B immigration regulations.
***$50 discount if petition is filed electronically.
What employers should do now
Though cap registration will not open until March 6, employers should work with their immigration counsel to identify H-1B cap needs and gather beneficiary data as soon as possible. For each beneficiary, the employer must provide the following:
- Full legal name;
- Date of birth;
- Country of birth;
- Country of citizenship;
- Valid passport information (beneficiary must use the same passport or travel document for all registrations filed on their behalf); and
- Whether the beneficiary is eligible for the U.S. advanced-degree cap, or will be eligible for the advanced-degree cap at the time an H-1B cap petition is filed on the beneficiary’s behalf.
Your organization should also work with your immigration counsel to begin to gather supporting documentation and information required for the H-1B cap season. Advance preparation can minimize the risk of delay during the busy registration and petition filing periods. Employers should also work closely with prospective FY 2025 H-1B cap beneficiaries to ensure they have valid passports or travel documents and that they are aware of the new parameters of the new beneficiary-centric system.
We are closely monitoring the USCIS cap registration process and will provide updates throughout the FY 2025 cap season.