United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) unveiled earlier this month a set of “customer experience improvements” for H-1B applicants.
In mid-February, USCIS will debut “organizational accounts” for fiscal year (FY) 2025 H-1B cap filings as well as cap-exempt petitions. Multiple members of an organization, including both business and legal representatives, can work together inside the organizational account portal to complete the H-1B registration; the Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and the associated Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service.
The Form I-129, H-1B petitions and the Form I-907 premium processing request for the Form I-129 H-1B petition can be filed online via the organizational account.
“USCIS is always striving to improve and streamline our processes, and this is a big step forward,” USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou said in a statement. “Once we launch the organizational accounts and online filing of I-129 H-1B petitions, the entire H-1B lifecycle becomes fully electronic — from registration, if applicable, to our final decision and transmission to the Department of State.”
Businesses will need to designate an employee to establish the organizational account. That employee can then invite others from the company to join the group. The group creator “should be someone with the authority to sign, pay and submit on behalf of the company,” according to USCIS.
Businesses can create one group for their entire organization or multiple different accounts. However, each different account must be managed by a different designated employee.
“If you are designated by your organization to set up a company group, you will need to upgrade your account by logging in and following the on-screen instructions,” USCIS wrote in an FAQ memo about the new organizational accounts. “After upgrading your account, you will be able to send invitations with instructions to others to join your group.”
Legal representatives for each company can either initiate the creation of the account or join via an invitation from the designated organizer. Legal representatives can then invite paralegals to prepare H-1B registrations and petition drafts within the shared account.
Limitations to the new ‘organizational accounts’ system
While the new organizational accounts are a positive step to modernization, there are a few potential drawbacks to the model announced by USCIS.
First, dependents of H-1B applicants are not eligible to apply for status online through the organizational account. H-4 dependent spouses and children will need to file for their visa using a separate, paper-based process if the primary beneficiary files electronically via the online organizational account. The primary beneficiary could also elect to file their application using the paper-based process, along with their applicable dependents.
Further, designated employee representatives of the petitioning organization can only create and manage one group per fiscal year. Therefore, companies that elect to create more than one group, or who have subsidiaries/affiliates/other related entities that require the creation of multiple organizational accounts, must designate a different employee manager for each individual section. This could make the organizational account option burdensome and complicated for some large companies.
Lastly, USCIS noted in the FAQ memo that “paper filed Forms I-129 and I-907 cannot be linked to the organizational account” at this time.
Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm continues to monitor the situation closely and is evaluating the advantages and potential drawbacks of using the organizational account option to file H-1B petitions electronically. Our team will provide individualized advice to companies based on their size, corporate structure and employee demographics. Please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm with any questions or to receive more information.
Other details and information
— USCIS will also move the paper filing location for the Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and the Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service from service centers to lock boxes. This move is part of its “efforts to increase efficiency by standardizing processes and reducing costs.”
— USCIS said the organizational accounts will feature “new and improved design, efficient process flows, and case management features for account holders.”
— The FY2025 H-1B electronic registration process will open in March 2024. As in previous years, employers are required to register each potential H-1B recipient by completing a basic, online form during the initial enrollment period. When demand for an H-1B visa exceeds the cap (which is usually the case), then USCIS randomly selects enough potential H-1B recipients to reach the cap using a computer-generated lottery. If an employee’s registration form is selected through the lottery, then employers prepare and file the entire H-1B petition for the selected registrant(s).