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USCIS: Entire H-1B Filing Process Is Now Online

Agency rolls out upgraded collaboration platform for employers, attorneys

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) debuted its newly upgraded H-1B registration system platform Feb. 28, in time for the fiscal year (FY) 2025 cap season.

The addition of organizational accounts to the myUSCIS platform is expected to boost collaboration between employers seeking to sponsor H-1B workers and their legal representatives who help put their cases together.

The organizational accounts allow multiple people within an organization, including HR, and their attorneys to work on and prepare H-1B registrations, Form I-129 petitions and Form I-907 requests for premium processing.

“USCIS is always striving to improve and streamline our processes, and this is a big step forward,” said USCIS Director Ur Jaddou. With the launch of “the organizational accounts and online filing of I-129 H-1B petitions, the entire H-1B life cycle becomes fully electronic, from registration … to our final decision and transmission to the Department of State.”

In addition to streamlining the H-1B petition process, the upgraded platform should help reduce duplicate H-1B registrations and other common errors, she said.

“I’m glad that we’re finally moving into the 21st century with USCIS technology,” said Miki Matrician, a partner at WR immigration in Boston. “Leveraging technology will save employers time and money.”

H-1B petitioning employers are required to use organizational accounts on myUSCIS to participate in the FY 2025 H-1B cap registration period which opens March 6, 2024, at noon ET. All registrations must be submitted by March 22 at noon ET.

“It’s imperative that employers familiarize themselves with this platform to avoid any setbacks during the short H-1B registration window,” said Anthony El-Hashem, an attorney in the Miami office of Akerman.

On April 1, USCIS will begin accepting online filing for H-1B cap petitions and associated premium processing requests through the new system for petitioners whose registrations have been selected. Users can still submit paper petition forms if they choose to do so.

H-1B petitioning employers who have never created a myUSCIS online account will be asked to create an organizational account. Employers with existing H-1B registrant accounts will be upgraded to the new organizational accounts. 

Immigration attorneys advise employers make a plan with their legal representatives before setting up H-1B organizational accounts. “It is critical for companies to coordinate with outside counsel to strategize on who will set up the account, who the company administrator will be, who will be responsible for reviewing and approving each registration, and building a process to ensure all registrations are entered into the system,” said Chad Graham, executive partner at Graham Adair in San Jose, Calif.

Employers must first decide who will be the “Administrator” for the company, El-Hashem said. “The Administrator is the person who will create and oversee a ‘Company Group’ which will allow multiple individuals within the organization to collaborate on and prepare H-1B registrations. The Administrator must be someone who has the authority to sign, pay for and submit registrations on behalf of the company.”

Once the Company Group is created, the Administrator can invite co-workers to be additional Administrators or Members who lack certain permissions but are able to create, edit and delete drafts of H-1B registrations. Administrators can also invite their legal representatives to prepare H-1B registrations on behalf of the company, El-Hashem said.

Kimberley Robidoux, an attorney in the San Diego office of WR Immigration, explained that until now, HR would create a myUSCIS employer account and attorneys would create their own accounts. The attorney would prepare the registration and coordinate with the company by sending them a passcode to link the accounts. The company representative could then review and make sure the petition was accurate. Finally, the attorney would submit the registration.

“The process had a lot of back and forth,” she said. “The new system is much more dynamic. It will allow attorneys and HR teams to review and edit registrations and petitions more readily.”

The employer’s organizational accounts must be maintained by an employee authorized to sign H-1B registrations and petitions to be submitted to USCIS.

“The collaboration aspect is a great idea in theory,” Graham said. “But there is some uncertainty around it. For example, most law firms use a case management system to process cases. USCIS has said that they are not anticipating having those external systems interact with the collaboration tool, which would result in a lot of additional manual work to transcribe information for each H-1B registrant.”

There are also some potential workflow issues depending on who—the employer or the attorney—begins the registration or petition process.

“We’re anticipating glitches in the system, so I’m telling HR teams that until USCIS works out all the kinks, be ready with a paper petition filing as well,” Matrician said.

Robidoux is aware of a few glitches already, including “delays in sending the verification code, errors that prevent the acceptance of an invitation, client companies that go missing in an attorney’s account, and email from USCIS with the invitation to collaborate going missing.”

She said that USCIS may respond to an email for technical support fairly quickly, but follow-up responses can take a long time. “If you have not yet started the process to set up an organizational account and/or collaborate with your attorney, make sure to do so now,” she said.

Don’t Forget the New Passport Requirements

As in past years, USCIS will use a random computerized lottery to select the registrations for which an H-1B cap petition may be submitted. However, this year, USCIS will switch to a beneficiary-centric H-1B cap registration selection process rather than the registration-centric process that has been in effect since 2020.

Under the newly revised registration process, each foreign national must hold a valid passport or travel document, which will be used as the worker’s unique identifier in the lottery. The passport or travel document used to register the foreign national must be valid and unexpired at the time of submission of the registration.

“Registrants are required to submit evidence of the passport or travel document used at the time of registration to identify the candidate and each candidate must only be registered under one passport or travel document,” El-Hashem said. “This new rule may be problematic for candidates who have expired or expiring passports and/or travel documents.”

If the passport or travel document expires between when a registration is submitted and when the H-1B petition is filed, the employer should enter data from the new, currently valid passport or travel document on the I-129 petition.

For any other extenuating circumstances, USCIS said, the registrant will have an opportunity during the registration process to provide a brief explanation as to why the beneficiary does not have a valid passport or travel document.


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