USCIS recently announced that it received enough electronic registrations during the initial registration period to reach the FY 2024 H-1B numerical allocations (H-1B cap), including the advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap. 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.
This article discusses H-1B electronic registration, some updates on the FY 2024 process and suggests measures to combat fraud in the process.
The H-1B electronic registration process helps to streamline processing by minimizing paperwork and data exchange, resulting in overall cost savings for employers seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions. Prospective petitioners who wish to file H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those for beneficiaries eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first complete an electronic registration process and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee for each prospective beneficiary.
During the registration process, prospective petitioners (also referred to as registrants) and their authorized representatives must provide basic information about the prospective petitioner and each requested worker. This process occurs annually, and the registration period lasts at least 14 calendar days. Once the initial registration period closes, the H-1B selection process runs on properly submitted electronic registrations, and only those with selected registrations are eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.
Registering on the day the initial registration period opens is not mandatory, as selections take place after the registration period closes. Creating an online account for the electronic registration process is easy, and you may find it demonstrated on the USCIS website.
USCIS witnessed 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. Similar upward trends were seen in the FY 2022 and FY 2023 H-1B registration periods too.
The below chart depicts registration and selection numbers for fiscal years 2021-2024 (as of April 24, 2023).
* The count of eligible registrations excludes duplicate registrations, those deleted by the prospective employer before the close of the registration period, and those with failed payments.
* The number of selections was smaller in FY 2024 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.
The effort to thwart fraud in the registration process is of utmost importance to the USCIS. The agency has observed that there has been an increase in the number of eligible registrations for beneficiaries with multiple eligible registrations. This is concerning as some individuals may have attempted to gain an unfair advantage by submitting multiple registrations. To ensure that the H-1B cap petitions are filed only by those who adhere to the law, the USCIS remains committed to deterring and preventing abuse of the registration process.
USCIS reminds the public that at the time each registration is submitted, each prospective petitioner is required to sign an attestation, under penalty of perjury, that:
• All of the information contained in the registration submission is complete, true, and correct;
• The registration(s) reflect a legitimate job offer; and
• 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 is not true and correct, the registration will not be properly submitted, and the prospective petitioner will not be eligible to file a petition based on that registration. The agency 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.
Grounded on evidence from the FY 2023 and FY 2024 H-1B cap seasons, USCIS has already carried out extensive fraud investigations, denied and revoked petitions accordingly, and is in the process of initiating law enforcement referrals for criminal prosecution.
In a recent case, it was discovered that two companies owned by brothers-in-law had filed multiple registrations for several individuals to gain an unfair advantage. Although the registration form did not provide this information, USCIS could gather information by accessing commercial databases that contained details about the businesses, owners, executives, and prior addresses.
Another case involved three companies that had shared an office location in 2021. In an attempt to obscure any connection between them, they changed their corporate headquarters. However, the USCIS database picked up on their prior history and past connections between the owners and executives, thereby exposing their attempt to misuse the H-1B registration process.
USCIS is dedicated to implementing the law and addressing the evolving needs of the US labor market through the H-1B program, including proposing enhancements to the H-1B registration process to stop misuse. An upcoming H-1B modernization rule is expected to enable the H-1B registration process to prevent fraud in the system.
Companies that try to bend the rules or outsmart the system will likely be subject to scrutiny, and it’s advisable to comply with the preregistration guidelines to safeguard your company. Immigration experts suggest that companies that have attempted to manipulate the preregistration process should think carefully about submitting petitions for those employees who have been chosen, as each petition is likely to receive a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) and potential fraud finding.