H-1B Visa Process

Changes in H-1B Visa Process Anticipated to Halve Registrations as USCIS Adopts Stringent Measures

The H-1B visa application process, facilitating the entry of skilled foreign workers into the U.S., is witnessing substantial modifications for the fiscal year 2025. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has initiated changes in the registration approach to combat fraud, leading to a significant drop in the expected number of applicants.

This year’s registration period, operational from March 6 to March 22, foresees approximately 350,000 applicants—a stark decrease from last year’s figures, which surpassed 759,000 registrations. USCIS attributes the decline to its revamped strategy, emphasizing individual-based selection rather than relying on the number of registrations by employers.

In the altered process, even if an individual is registered by multiple employers, they will only participate in the lottery once. If selected, all the employers who registered the individual can apply for an H-1B visa. While this provides flexibility for individuals with multiple job offers, it introduces challenges for employers who may face uncertainties if the selected candidate opts to work for another employer.

Adding to the complexity, employers must now grapple with increased fees for visa petitions effective April 1. The final rule, released on January 30, imposes substantial hikes, particularly affecting employers hiring high-skilled foreign nationals. USCIS filing fees for H-1B beneficiaries will surge by 70%, with L-1 petitions seeing a 201% increase and O-1 petitions facing a 129% rise, according to reports from American Bazaar.

The heightened costs include a notable increase in visa application fees, such as H-1B visas rising from $460 to $780, L-1 visas from $460 to $1,385, and O-1 visas from $460 to $1,055.

USCIS emphasizes its commitment to ensuring that registered individuals genuinely intend to work for the employer initiating the registration. Applicants are required to possess a valid passport or travel document.

Introducing an organizational account named ‘myUSCIS,’ employers now have the option to register multiple entities under a single account, streamlining the application process amid these significant changes.

Source: India today