On December 13, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it had received enough petitions to meet the annual numerical allocation of 85,000 H-1B visas for fiscal year 2024 (FY2024), which includes 65,000 regular and 20,000 U.S. advanced degree (U.S. master’s degree) cap petitions. The next period during which registrants will be allowed to submit H-1B cap registrations is expected to be in the first couple of weeks of March 2024 for an October 1, 2024, (FY2025) employment start date for successful registrants.
Changes are coming for employers – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is set to publish a new Form I-9 on August 1, 2023. USCIS has also introduced new procedures that will allow certain employers to remotely verify employees’ identification and employment authorization documents.
In May, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that 10 employers have settled claims that they violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by posting discriminatory job advertisements on a college recruiting platform. These actions have cost individual employers over $300,000 and serve as a warning to make sure that online job boards are compliant with the INA before posting to them.
The Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify program is a free web-based verification tool for employers to confirm newly hired employees’ work authorization in the United States. Although participation in E-Verify is generally voluntary for employers, some states require employers to use E-Verify in certain contexts. Florida is the most recent state to update its E-Verify laws with Gov. Ron DeSantis signing Senate Bill 1718 on May 10, 2023.
While U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) made clear that it would not be increasing the $2,500 premium processing fee in its latest round of proposed fee increases, the agency announced on January 12 its final phase of premium processing expansion for EB-1 and EB-2 Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers.
Beginning January 30, 2023, USCIS will accept Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for all EB-1 multinational executive and manager petitions and all EB-2 national interest waiver (NIW) petitions. Notably, unlike previous phases of premium processing expansion, this phase applies to all petitions, both new (initial) and previously filed (pending) under the EB-1 multinational executive and manager petitions and all EB-2 NIW categories.
Earlier this month, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, proposing to increase the filing fees for certain immigration and naturalization benefit requests, with employment-based petitions undoubtedly seeing the greatest increase across the board.
USCIS hosted a public engagement session on the proposed fee rule on January 11, in which Director Ur M. Jaddou emphasized that fees have remained unchanged since 2016 and cited several reasons for the fee increases: covering higher costs due to inflation, avoiding any future backlogs, improving the use of technology, improving customer service, and reducing processing time. She further noted that USCIS is making a conscious decision to limit the naturalization application fee increase to less than 5% in an ongoing effort to encourage legal permanent residents to pursue naturalization and that USCIS intends to expand fee waiver categories. The proposed rule would generate an additional $1.9 billion in fee-based revenue per year for USCIS, with the intended net result of minimally increasing fees for approximately one million filers each year. However, for employers who routinely sponsor nonimmigrant and immigrant workers, the increased fees pose a significant cost.