United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on January 12th that it will allow the creation of “online organizational accounts” in February, and will allow Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker for H-1B petitions for the 2025 fiscal year to be filed online through these accounts. Unless there are unexpected delays, H-1B petitioners with online organizational accounts could be able to Forms I-129 (along with associated Forms I-907 Request for Premium Processing Service) online for FY2025 H-1B petitions through these accounts as soon as April 2024. Although the online filing of certain USCIS forms has been available for some time, this is the first time that petitioners seeking nonimmigrant work authorization for a beneficiary will have the option of filing online as opposed to mailing in a printed petition.
USCIS will host two national engagement sessions to discuss organizational accounts on January 23 and January 24, 2024, as well as a number of smaller sessions in the period preceding the cap-subject H-1B registration period in March of this year.
How Will Online Organizational Accounts Work in Practice?
USCIS has stated that organizational account holders, entities with an H-1B registrant account, their legal representatives, and new users, will benefit from “new account enhancements” including improved design and case management features. H-1B petitioners and their legal representatives will be able to file Forms I-129 and associated Forms I-907 premium processing requests online. Although the USCIS has not provided specific details yet, it is possible that the “handshake” process between an H-1B petitioner and its legal counsel may be simplified.
Will Online Filing be Available for All H-1B Petitions?
This is currently unclear. The USCIS’ announcement refers to H-1B petitions generally, but the agency has indicated orally in an information gathering session that it plans to introduce Form I-129 online filing incrementally and that such online filing will initially be available solely for FY2025 cap-subject H-1B petitions. This is partly because USCIS will already have certain information available from the registration applications filed in advance of cap-subject H-1B petitions.
How Will the I-129 Filing Fee and Other Associated Fees be Paid?
Payment of the I-129 filing fee, the ACWIA fee, the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee, and the Premium Processing fee will be made through the pay.gov government website. Please note that pay.gov does not provide any case-specific identifying information, such as a petition receipt number, on the receipt provided.
Will the Online Filing of H-1B Petitions be Mandatory?
No. H-1B petitioners may file their H-1B petitions by mail if they wish. The H-1B cap registration process will continue to be available solely online, however.
Where Can I Obtain More Information?
The USCIS Public Engagement page can be accessed to subscribe to notifications about the upcoming engagement sessions noted above. Further information about organizational accounts will be available on the USCIS H-1B Electronic Registration Process page. Information about the USCIS forms that are eligible for online filing can be obtained from the Forms Available to File Online page.
The availability of online filing for I-129 petitions is a welcome development and reflects the USCIS’ readiness to move beyond antiquated filing mechanisms that bear little relation to today’s technological realities. As has almost invariably occurred with other technological innovations adopted by the agency, however, it is likely that the creation of online organizational accounts and the online filing of Form I-129 will experience a number of technical bugs and other difficulties shortly after their introduction. We hope that these will be resolved quickly, and well within the timeframe for filing cap-subject H-1B petitions.