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USCIS Modifies H-1B Lottery to Prevent Employer Fraud

The H-1B visa registration selection process will shift from focusing on employer registrations to prioritizing the workers named in the registrations, with the goal of reducing the possibility of misuse and fraud, according to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) final rule scheduled for publication Feb. 2.

Under the current process, the more registrations that employers submit on behalf of an individual, the higher the chance that that individual will be selected in the H-1B visa lottery. Under the new proposal, each unique person who has a registration submitted on their behalf would be entered into the selection process once, regardless of the number of registrations submitted for them. This would improve the chances that a legitimate registration would be selected and eliminate the practice of submitting multiple registrations for the same worker to increase the chances of selection.

[SHRM Online: “Immigration Fee Hikes Take Effect April 1”]

Starting with the fiscal year 2025 registration period, which will run March 6-22, 2024, USCIS will require visa beneficiaries to provide valid passport or travel document information with the registration. Each beneficiary must be registered under only one passport or travel document.

“We’re always looking for ways to bolster integrity and curtail the potential for fraud while improving and streamlining our application processes,” said USCIS Director Ur Jaddou. “The improvements in these areas should make H-1B selections more equitable for petitioners and beneficiaries.”

Many observers have long suspected that employers have been trying various ways to game the H-1B lottery system, from submitting multiple applications for the same person to setting up a structure of contract or consulting-vendor arrangements to file for the same person. And experts predicted that the relative ease of an online registration process would make fraud even more attractive.

In 2023, the number of ineligible registrations submitted by multiple employers conspiring together was so high that the agency addressed the problem publicly.

USCIS said “several dozen” technology companies colluded to submit registrations for the same 96,000 workers, totaling 408,891 entries, to try to boost their odds of selection in the H-1B lottery.

The change to the registration selection process is a significant part of the October 2023 proposed rule overhauling the H-1B visa program. USCIS is still reviewing the bulk of the H-1B modernization proposed rule and intends to publish a separate final rule to address the remainder of the provisions in the proposal.

“SHRM strongly supports the integrity measures that call for shifting to selecting registrations by unique beneficiaries in the cap selection process,” said SHRM Chief of Staff and Head of Public Affairs Emily M. Dickens, adding that the changes align with SHRM’s Workplace Immigration Policy Recommendations. “These measures promote fairness and transparency within the program and align with our commitment to fostering an honest and efficient immigration system.”


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