Breaking News – January 2024

News RoomFebruary 1, 20240

Breaking News – January 2024

Don’t miss our H-1B Cap Registration Webinar tomorrow where Managing Partner, David Zaritzky Brown, will walk you through all the just announced major changes to the H-1B lottery that will take effect this year. The changes have been introduced to make it fairer and equitable for employers and participants alike and having the latest information to plan for this lottery season will allow you to plan accordingly. David will also cover all of the key elements of the H-1B cap selection process and walk through important contingency planning – see full details below.

USCIS Releases Final Rule for Fee Increases (Effective: April 1, 2024) and Announces Updates to the H-1B Registration Process and the Registration Window for this Year’s H-1B Cap!

On January 30, 2024, USCIS confirmed the H-1B lottery registration period for this year’s H-1B cap season. As reported by USCIS: “The initial registration period for the FY 2025 H-1B cap will open at noon Eastern on March 6, 2024, and run through noon Eastern on March 22, 2024. During this period, prospective petitioners, and their representatives, if applicable, must use a USCIS online account to register each beneficiary electronically for the selection process and pay the associated registration fee for each beneficiary.”

Within the same update, USCIS announced the publication of the H-1B registration final rule. We previously reported on the Notice of Proposed Rule Making in October 2023, and this final rule implements several of the proposed changes, but not all. Most importantly, it fundamentally alters the registration process to permit the beneficiary participating in the lottery only one registration regardless of the number of employers that choose to enter that beneficiary in the Cap selection. As an example, if a beneficiary previously secured 10 registrations from different employers and was selected 3 times in the prior lottery, that same beneficiary would only be entered once for selection on behalf of all 10 employers. This important change removes the incentive of securing multiple employers for the cap selection process.

We invite you to review our H-1B Lottery 2024 (FY25) Memo on our website for updates about the beneficiary-centric selection process and USCIS’s efforts to increase the integrity of the H-1B registration program. Please note: We will continually update our website memo throughout the cap selection period with any other regulatory updates, so please bookmark it to remain up to date. Given this final rule we anticipate a more orderly and fairer Cap selection process.

USCIS Fee Increase

Since 2016, USCIS has not issued a comprehensive increase in its fee schedule, but today, the Service published a final rule increasing fee across the board for many case types. According to the update, the fees will go into effect for cases filed on or after April 1, 2024. In addition to new fees, USCIS will also have several new form editions required on the same date.

We detail a sampling of these fee updates below. The Director of USCIS had this to say: “For the first time in over seven years, USCIS is updating our fees to better meet the needs of our agency, enabling us to provide more timely decisions to those we serve. Despite years of inadequate funding, the USCIS workforce has made great strides in customer service, backlog reduction, implementing new processes and programs, and upholding fairness, integrity, and respect for all we serve.” In its closing remarks, USCIS noted that these fees will generate revenues to make a more efficient USCIS in terms of an improved customer experience and work to combat the historic backlog.

In the below chart, we have extracted some of the final fee increases that our clients most commonly file. Please note, the fees below are for paper filings:

TypeCurrentFinal Fee
I-129 H1B460780
I-129 L-14601385
I-129 O-14601055
I-129 E, TN, H-3, P, Q, R, CW4601015
I-130535675
I-140700715
I-485 (alone)12251440
I-485 with EAD12251440 + 260
I-485 with EAD/AP12251440 + 260
I-131575630
I-765410520
I-539370470
I-751595750
N-400640760
H-1B Registration for Annual Lottery *Note: Will not yet be in effect for this year’s lottery (FY25).10215

Importantly, among other updates, USCIS recognized that not all employers are created equally and offered reduced fee rates in certain categories for employers with less than 25 employees. Those exceptions are noted here:

TypeCurrentFinal Fee
I-129 H1B460460
I-129 L-1460695
I-129 O-1460530
I-129 E, TN, H-3, P, Q, R, CW460510

As noted, the above lists are not an exhaustive list of the upcoming changes to the fee schedule. For a full list of fee increases, please visit this website.

In addition, we previously reported on a fee increase for the premium processing service, which is effective February 26, 2024. Please see the below chart highlighting the fee increases for the premium processing service.

At BIL, we are dedicated to filing as many cases impacted by the change as possible before the upcoming increases in April. We additionally encourage our clients to initiate case work that can be completed as soon as possible to increase the likelihood that the case can be filed with the lower fees. With the earliest filing date for H-1B cap selections being April 1st, all cap selections will automatically be subject to the higher fees.

This is a significant increase and cost to many companies and foreign nationals seeking immigration benefits with USCIS; we hope that the Service makes good on its promise to combat its historic backlogs and lackluster customer service offerings with these new revenues.


NEW LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

H-1B Cap and Contingency Planning

As the FY 2025 cap season nears, uncertainty looms over the heads of thousands of specialty workers while many businesses contemplate the very real risk that they will lose talented workers who are not selected. H-1B contingency planning is critical to successfully managing your foreign national workforce. Often an initial review involves considering what options exist for individuals to remain in the U.S. or go elsewhere. This program will both outline our approach to the H-1B cap season and also walk through the various contingency options available to individuals who are in the cap process. Managing Partner, David Zaritzky Brown will leverage his knowledge of twenty-five prior H-1B cap seasons to share his best options for a backup to Cap selection.

*This webinar is offering SHRM Professional Development Credit.

H-1B Cap Contingency – Think Canada

As a follow-up to our February 1st discussion concerning contingency planning for those not selected in the lottery, this talk will focus on the Canadian option. Whether a US and Canadian company or just a U.S. company, Managing Attorney, Clinton Green will highlight how clients can leverage immigration options in Canada to provide continuity for those U.S. workers who run out of runway because of an unsuccessful H-1B cap season. As a progressive skilled worker destination that shares time zones with the U.S. Canada has become a natural option for displaced U.S. workers who are stymied by the artificial H-1B Cap.
 
In addition to learning about the different immigration options for hiring workers in Canada and key recruitment strategies for starting operations or scaling existing operations in Canada quickly – we will highlight how Brown Immigration Law supports businesses to support Canadian permanent residence within two years of entry, or the alternative of finding a way back to the U.S. after a short stint in Canada.

*This webinar is offering SHRM Professional Development Credit.

As the FY 2025 cap season nears, uncertainty looms over the heads of thousands of specialty workers while many businesses contemplate the very real risk that they will lose talented workers who are not selected. H-1B contingency planning is critical to successfully managing your foreign national workforce. Often an initial review involves considering what options exist for individuals to remain in the U.S., however, for companies implementing contingency plans for foreign nationals in the US, Canada offers a plethora of untapped and innovative immigration programs that will allow companies to relocate their employees quickly and easily to Canada while minimizing disruptions to the workforce and client deliverables.

Moderated by Managing Partner, David Zaritzky Brown, this program will highlight useful Canadian options supported by the Canadian practice, led by Clinton J. Green, Managing Attorney and Canadian Practice Lead, and his team.

Once registered, you will receive an email with a link to use to join the video chat on the day of the event. Please note: This link should not be shared with others; it is unique to you. If you ever misplace the invitation link, simply visit the webinar schedule on our website

If you have colleagues who may benefit from our talks, you are welcome to invite them to join by sharing our webinar schedule where they can subscribe for further information.

Don’t miss these opportunities to increase your knowledge on important immigration issues!

Thank you and we look forward to having you at the event.

Best Regards,
 
The Team at Brown Immigration Law

** This newsletter/memo is provided for informational and discussion purposes only. It does not act as a substitute for direct legal contact on an individual basis **

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