U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the H-1B cap initial registration period for fiscal year 2024 will be from March 1, 2023, 12 p.m. EST to March 17, 2023, 12 p.m. EST. During this time, employers and their representatives may submit an H-1B registration for a chance to be selected among one of 85,000 employers to proceed forward to the next stage of the H-1B process.

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The H-1B program is for employers sponsoring foreign nationals in specialized occupations. Select employers, such as colleges and universities, non-profit affiliates, non-profit research organizations and government research organizations, are allowed to request an H-1B petition for prospective new employees year round, without numerical limitations. Employers outside of this select group face numerical limitations in submitting H-1B petitions for individuals who have never been the beneficiary of an H-1B petition. The government only allows a total of 85,000 new H-1B petitions each fiscal year for these employers, known as the H-1B cap.

Before 2020, employers seeking one of these coveted spots were required to submit the completed H-1B petition to USCIS. Once 85,000 H-1B petitions were randomly selected, the remaining unselected H-1B petitions were returned to the employers. Starting in 2020, USCIS implemented a new process in which to select the cap-subject H-1B petitions.

New H-1B cap registration process

Instead of preparing and filing the entire H-1B petition, employers are now required to submit an online registration. This registration requests limited information on the employer and prospective employee, along with a $10 registration fee. The registration period is only open for 16 days in March. Once the registration period closes, USCIS then conducts a random lottery. Those registrations selected in the lottery are granted 90 days to prepare and submit the entire H-1B petition to USCIS.

Since the program’s implementation in 2020, the registration fee has been and continues to be $10. Recently released proposed fee changes includes a proposal to increase the H-1B registration fee from $10 to $215. However, this proposal is simply that at this time: a proposal. The fee for the registration this year remains $10.