DHS Looks to Stop Businesses From Gaming H-1B System

Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Senior Legal Editor

February 2, 2024

The federal government is trying to make it harder for businesses to game the H-1B visa process to increase their chances that a particular in-demand worker gets selected in the lottery. 

A new rule published today by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and taking effect March 4 will implement a new "beneficiary-centric" selection process for the H-1B program that is meant to ensure that each beneficiary has the same chance of being selected, regardless of how many registrations are submitted on their behalf.

The H-1B program provides temporary visas for in-demand foreign workers with specialized skills who will be working in a specialty occupation in the US, such as doctors, engineers and accountants. Every fiscal year, the government sets a cap on the number of new H-1B work visas. If the number of registrations exceeds the H-1B quota, DHS runs a lottery on the electronic submissions.

DHS said recent years have seen an increase in the number of beneficiaries with multiple registrations submitted on their behalf, as well as an increase in the number and percentage of registrations submitted for beneficiaries with multiple registrations.

Under the current regulations, there is no limit on the number of registrations that may be submitted on behalf of one unique individual by different businesses. DHS said it wants to ensure that the annual allotment of H-1B visas go to businesses that truly intend to employ an H-1B worker, rather than businesses using the registration system as a placeholder for the possibility that they may want to employ an H-1B worker or as a way to game the selection process.

The new rule also will:

The initial registration period for the fiscal 2025 H-1B cap will open March 6, 2024, and run through March 22, 2024.

Higher Fees

In related news, DHS is increasing the H-1B petition fee and other immigration fees typically paid by employers.

Under a new rule taking effect April 1, changes include the following increases:

  • From $460 to $780 for the H-1B petition fee;
  • From $10 to $215 for H-1B cap registrations;
  • From $460 to $1,385 for the L-1 petition fee;
  • From $460 to $1,090 for the H-2A filing fee; and
  • From $10 to $215 for H-1B cap registration.

These represent the first increases since 2016.

The DHS said the increases would help them recover a greater share of their operating costs and support more timely processing of new applications.