On April 28, 2023, USCIS released the highly anticipated numbers relating to this year’s H-1B cap registration held in March. Considering the low acceptance rate reported by most employers, it was expected that USCIS received many more registrations this year than last. However, it was not expected that USCIS would include within its announcement allegations of potential misconduct on behalf of some companies submitting H-1B lottery registrations.
Specifically, USCIS received 780,884 total H-1B lottery registrations for FY 2024, compared to 483,927 for FY 2023. Of the total registrations, 408,891 (more than half) were eligible registrations for beneficiaries with multiple eligible registrations, compared to last year’s 165,180. USCIS attributes the significant increase in registrations to several dozen small technology companies that submitted multiple registrations for the same 96,000 individuals, an act USCIS has asserted was inappropriate collusion between the companies: “Based on evidence from the FY 2023 and FY 2024 H-1B cap seasons, USCIS has already undertaken extensive fraud investigations, denied and revoked petitions accordingly, and is in the process of initiating law enforcement referrals for criminal prosecution.” USCIS continued, “USCIS is committed to implementing the law and helping meet the ever-changing needs of the U.S. labor market. We are working on an upcoming H-1B modernization rule that will propose, among other improvements, bolstering the H-1B registration process to reduce the possibility of misuse and fraud in the H-1B registration system.”
The electronic H-1B cap registration program was initially implemented for FY 2021 as a solution to the countless hours and money that employers and their agents spent preparing voluminous filings increasingly only accepted by USCIS within a work-week window. For at least five years prior to FY 2021, the H-1B cap was reached within the first five business days of April, leaving employers and their attorneys spending the months of January, February, and March in a mad dash to ensure their filings were ready for filing on April 1; filings that had significant potential of being returned after not being selected in USCIS’ paper-based lottery system.
Given this most recent outcome, Congress should note that another USCIS program has significant flaws and act to reform U.S. immigration laws. Without change, the United States may well find itself lacking qualified, willing workers in many industries.