U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced changes to modernize the H-1B program, reduce H-1B cap registration fraud and adjust certain filing fees. The Department of Labor has also announced changes to the PERM processes.

H-1B Cap and Modernization Rule Updates

Dates for the H-1B cap registrations have been announced. Beneficiaries may be registered starting March 6, 2024, until March 22, 2024 (noon Eastern time). The H-1B cap registrations will be online and the filing fee is $10.

Note: For the next H-1B cap period starting in March 2025 (known as fiscal year 2026). USCIS will substantially increase the H-1B cap registration fee from $10 to $215 per registration.

Online Filing Option for H-1B

On February 28, 2024, USCIS will launch the online filing option for Form I-129 for noncap H-1B petitions (and Form I-907). On April 1, 2024, USCIS will begin accepting online filing for H-1B cap petitions and associated Forms I-907 for those selected in the cap. H-4 and H-4 EAD applications for dependents are not eligible for online filing, and therefore H-1B petition packets that need to include family members cannot use this new online system at this time.

New Form I-129 and New Fees

The I-129 form and its filing fee will change as of April 1, 2024. The filing fee will increase from $460 to $780. There will be no grace period for the filing of these new forms, however, because they must be filed with the new fees. Some examples of the other new filing fees are as follows:

Nonimmigrant Petitions

H-1B: $460 to $780

L-1s: $460 to $1,385

O-1: $460 to $1,055

E-3, TN, H-3: $460 to $1,015

(Note: Filing fees do vary for small employers and nonprofits.)

I-539: $370 to $470 (or $420 if filed online)

Immigrant Petitions and Green Card Applications

I-140: $700 to $715

I-485 standalone: $1,225 to $1,440


N-400: $640 to $760 (or $710 if filed online)

We will provide updates of changes as they go into effect.

Premium Processing Fees

Fees related to I-140 immigrant visa petitions and I-129 nonimmigrant work petitions will increase on February 26, 2024, from $2,500 to $2,805.

Dual Intent and Expanded Employment Opportunities for International Students

On December 20, 2023, USCIS issued updated policy guidance for F and M student visa holders, consolidating various rules to reduce confusion and increase transparency on eligible activities and restrictions for international students employed in the United States. Among other things, the updated guidance clarifies that F and M students can hold dual intent while in the U.S. by being the beneficiary of a PERM or I-140 immigrant visa petition and still be able to demonstrate an intent to return home when their visa status expires. The updated guidance also emphasizes that F-1 students seeking STEM OPT extensions can be employed by startup companies, so long as the company complies with applicable STEM OPT sponsor requirements (including completing a STEM training plan, be enrolled and remain in good standing with E-Verify, and compensating STEM OPT employees at the same wage as similarly situated U.S. employees).

PERM OFLC Updates on ETA 9089 and PWD Adjudications

In July 2023, the Department of Labor implemented a new ETA Form 9089 and migrated to a new filing system. The new PERM deviates from the prior application in both form and substance, including additional questions and elections for worksite locations and minimum requirements, and provides separate addendums for documenting the employee's education and experience. Under the new system, prevailing wage determinations (PWDs) are also automatically imported into the PERM application, eliminating the need to enter information already provided in the PWD. In November 2023, OFLC responded to reports of increases in PERM summary denials by indicating that it is focused on adjudicating cases as quickly as possible, with appeals to PERM denials adjudicated on a "first in, first reviewed" basis. Decisions on PERM applications submitted in the new filing system are expected in the second half of 2024.

For More Information

If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact any of the attorneys in our Immigration Law Group or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.