USCIS Has Said
As previously announced, on March 27, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received enough electronic registrations during the initial registration period to reach the fiscal year 2024 H-1B numerical allocations (H-1B cap), including the advanced degree exemption also known as the master’s cap.
The H-1B electronic registration process, implemented in 2020 beginning with the FY 2021 H-1B cap, has dramatically streamlined processing by reducing paperwork and data exchange, and provides an overall cost savings to petitioning employers and USCIS.
Historically, employers filed their full, and often voluminous, H-1B cap-subject petitions with USCIS during a five-day filing period, after which USCIS would select eligible petitions through a random selection process. This process resulted in unnecessary paperwork and incurred mailing costs for both petitioners and the agency. By streamlining the H-1B cap selection process with an electronic registration system, USCIS created cost savings and efficiencies for petitioners and the agency.
FY 2024 H-1B Registration Overview
During the registration period for the FY 2024 H-1B cap, USCIS saw a significant increase in the number of registrations submitted compared to prior years. Generally, we saw an increase in the number of registrations submitted, 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.
This chart shows registration and selection numbers for fiscal years 2021-2024 (as of April 24, 2023).
Cap Fiscal Year
Eligible Registrations for Beneficiaries with No Other Eligible Registrations
Eligible Registrations for Beneficiaries with Multiple Eligible Registrations
*The count of eligible registrations excludes duplicate registrations, those deleted by the prospective employer prior to the close of the registration period, and those with failed payments.
**The number of selections was smaller in FY24 than in prior years primarily due to (a) establishing a higher anticipated petition filing rate by selected registrants based on prior years; and (b) higher projected Department of State approvals of H-1B1 visas, which count against the H-1B cap.
Measures to Combat Fraud in the Registration Process
The large number of eligible registrations for beneficiaries with multiple eligible registrations - much larger than in previous years – has raised serious concerns that some may have tried to gain an unfair advantage by working together to submit multiple registrations on behalf of the same beneficiary. This may have unfairly increased their chances of selection. We remain committed to deterring and preventing abuse of the registration process, and to ensuring only those who follow the law are eligible to file an H-1B cap petition.
We remind the public that at the time each registration is submitted, each prospective petitioner is required to sign an attestation, under penalty of perjury, that:
(a) All of the information contained in the registration submission is complete, true, and correct;
(b) the registration(s) reflect a legitimate job offer; and
(c) The registrant, or the organization on whose behalf the registration(s) is being submitted, has not worked with, or agreed to work with, another registrant, petitioner, agent, or other individual or entity to submit a registration to unfairly increase chances of selection for the beneficiary or beneficiaries in this submission.
If USCIS finds that this attestation was not true and correct, USCIS will find the registration to not be properly submitted and the prospective petitioner would not be eligible to file a petition based on that registration. USCIS may deny a petition, or revoke a petition approval, based on a registration that contained a false attestation and was therefore not properly submitted.
Furthermore, USCIS may also refer the individual or entity who submitted a false attestation to appropriate federal law enforcement agencies for investigation and further action, as appropriate.
Based on evidence from the FY 2023 and FY 2024 H-1B cap seasons, USCIS has already undertaken extensive fraud investigations, denied and revoked petitions accordingly, and is in the process of initiating law enforcement referrals for criminal prosecution.
The H-1B program is an essential part of our nation’s immigration system and our economy, and USCIS is committed to implementing the law and helping meet the ever-changing needs of the U.S. labor market. We are working on an upcoming H-1B modernization rule that will propose, among other improvements, bolstering the H-1B registration process to reduce the possibility of misuse and fraud in the H-1B registration system.
- 96,000 people submitted multiple lottery entries amounting to 408,000 entries.
- These multiple entries are coming from a "handful" of "small" companies that are now under in-depth investigation
What AILA has advised
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has provided its members with talking points to help them explain the challenges faced by employers in obtaining H-1B visas.
H-1B visas are intended for "specialty occupations" and allow US companies to temporarily employ foreign workers with highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor's degree or higher. H-1B specialty occupations include fields such as engineering, accounting, law, medicine, and the arts.
The number of H-1B visas issued annually has been capped at 65,000 since 2004, but this number has proven insufficient to meet US employers' needs. In 2023, USCIS received 483,927 H-1B registrations, of which only 127,600 were selected to meet the cap.
The demand for H-1B visas has increased for several reasons, including the reopening of US universities and consular operations post-pandemic, creating an increased number of foreign students graduating from US institutions looking to stay and work in the United States. Additionally, a low unemployment rate and recent legislation such as the CHIPS Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act have created the need for foreign workers to fill jobs. In a highly competitive job market, multiple employers are making bona fide job offers to the same employee. There has also been a high rate of registrants who were not selected in prior years, entering the lottery in multiple years, and reduced administrative barriers to entering the H-1B lottery.
Some companies have allegedly been set up to take advantage of the low barriers to entering the H-1B lottery and are submitting multiple registrations for the same individual.
AILA suggests that Congress can help alleviate the pressure on the usage of H-1B visas:
- By passing H-1B reform legislation that ensures that the supply of H-1B visas is responsive to the needs of US employers and the economy.
- By modernizing the H-1B registration system to ensure integrity in the system, including running the lottery based on individual applicants rather than by individual registrations, so even if a foreign national has multiple bona fide job offers, each foreign national will have the same percentage of selection.
- By creating a streamlined pathway to permanent residency for foreign graduates of US institutions of higher education.
- By addressing green card backlogs to ensure that individuals on H-1B visas can quickly become lawful permanent residents:
- Regardless of their nationality
- Exempting individuals serving in the national interest and spouses and minor children of primary applicants from the immigrant visa quotas
- Enabling individuals to get the benefits of filing an adjustment of status application earlier
- Increasing the annual allocation of green cards.
- Protecting minor children from aging out
- Eliminating the per-country caps.
AILA advises its members to share the impact that not being selected in the H-1B lottery has had on their clients and community, showcasing the breadth of the demand from small businesses, healthcare research, and major corporations.