Today, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released its statistics for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 H-1B Cap Registration Filing Process which occurred in March through two lotteries. During this year’s initial lottery rounds, USCIS selected a number of registration applications filed by entities wishing to sponsor H-1B petitions for beneficiaries with an October 1, 2023 start date. This registration process has been in place since March 2020.
The below chart illustrates the registration and selection numbers for fiscal years 2021-2024 (as of April 24, 2023).
|Cap Fiscal Year||Total Registrations||Eligible Registrations||Eligible Registrations for Beneficiaries with No Other Eligible Registrations||Eligible Registrations for Beneficiaries with Multiple Eligible Registrations||Selections|
What the Numbers Reveal
As referenced above, the total number of registration applications received by USCIS this March for the FY 2024 H-1B lottery was 780,884. This represents an increase of 296,957 applications compared with FY 2023. Of the registrations submitted for FY 2024, 758,994 registration applications were deemed eligible. This means that 21,890 registration applications were not included in this year’s selection process for reasons that include duplicate registrations, those deleted by the prospective employer prior to the close of the registration period, and those with failed payments.
Of the total eligible registration applications received, 110,791 applications were selected in the two lotteries. This yields a selection percentage of approximately 14.6%. Last year, USCIS selected 127,600 applications, which resulted in only one selection round in FY 2023, compared with prior years that resulted in multiple rounds of selections throughout the year. The agency notes that the number of selections was lower this year because of a higher anticipated petition filing rate by selected registrants based on prior years, as well as higher projected Department of State approvals of H-1B1 visas, which are counted against the H-1B cap.
The USCIS also provided statistics for the number of eligible registration applications received for “Beneficiaries with no other eligible registrations” and for “Beneficiaries with multiple eligible registrations.” The total number for the former category was 350,103; the total number for the latter category was 408,891. This means that 58,788 more applications were filed by more than one registrant for the same beneficiary than the applications that were filed by one registrant for one beneficiary alone.
It should be noted that that it is permissible for multiple unrelated companies to file an H-1B registration application on behalf of the same beneficiary if a legitimate job offer exists. However, companies may not collude with other entities to submit multiple registrations on behalf of a beneficiary to unfairly increase the chances of selection. Similarly, a company with “related or affiliated” entities (e.g. subsidiaries) may not file multiple registrations for a single beneficiary via their various entities as such tactics are also considered a form of gaining an unfair advantage within the lottery system.
Increase in Multiple Registrations Filed for Single Beneficiary Spark USCIS Fraud Concern
The increase in the number of registration applications filed by different entities for the same beneficiary (an increase of 243,711 over last year) has caused significant concern on the part of USCIS regarding potential fraud. The agency notes in its announcement: “[t]he large number of eligible registrations for beneficiaries with multiple eligible registrations – much larger than in previous years – has raised serious concerns that some may have tried to gain an unfair advantage by working together to submit multiple registrations on behalf of the same beneficiary. This may have unfairly increased their chances of selection.”
There are various potential explanations for the unusual registration rates for this fiscal year. One such possible explanation is that large corporate organizations with multiple entities that are formally separate and with different Federal Employer Identification Numbers may have tried to exploit the registration process by filing multiple applications for the same beneficiary. However, it is equally plausible that there may have been a higher number of well-qualified employees who had multiple and unrelated prospective employers file legitimate registration applications simply because of their desirable skill set.
Whatever the reason for the dramatic increase in the number of registration applications filed by multiple registrants for the same beneficiary is, it is clear that this is a matter that the USCIS views with the utmost seriousness. USCIS has announced that a thorough fraud investigation will take place and may result in the imposition of criminal penalties. It is also likely that the USCIS will put in place safeguards for the FY 2025 registration process to minimize the chances of fraud from occurring in this process; the agency indicates that a “modernization rule” is being developed to achieve this goal.
T&S will continue to closely monitor all developments in this regard and provide further updates as they arise.