On February 7th, we invited Lawyer Meng to share an expert analysis of the significant alterations to the H-1B visa policy for the fiscal year 2025. Marta Meng, certified by the State Bar of California in Immigration & Nationality Law, also serves as vice-chair of the Los Angeles County Bar Association's Immigration Law Section. She delivered key insights into the expected shifts that will affect applicants and employers navigating the H-1B visa application process.
Deciphering the Changes and Constants in H-1B Visa Policy
Adjustments on the Horizon:
Revolutionary shift towards a beneficiary-centric H-1B registration process, a move designed to ensure fairness by allowing each beneficiary a single selection opportunity per lottery.
A new mandate for applicants to present a valid passport or travel document was highlighted, underscoring the tightened prerequisites for application.
USCIS's pivot to digital, with the online filing of H-1B petitions and associated Form I-907 set to commence on February 28, 2024.
An overview of the updated fee structure revealed significant increases effective April 1, 2024, including a hike in the H1B base filing fee to $780, the imposition of a $600 asylum program fee per I-129 form, and the reduction of premium processing times to 15 business days alongside an increase in the premium processing fee to $2805 starting February 26, 2024.
Elements Remaining Unchanged:
Despite the flurry of updates, the webinar reassured attendees that the H1B registration fee for FY2025 would remain at $10, with a note of the impending increase to $215 the following year.
A Look at Registration Data and Selection Odds
Lawyer Meng delved into the registration statistics from FY2021 through FY2024, illustrating a significant uptick in applications that reflect the intensifying competition for H-1B visas. While the precise selection rate for the current year remains elusive, Meng estimated a selection likelihood of 20-30%, urging prospective applicants to strategize accordingly.
Preparation for H-1B Applications and Anticipated Regulations
In the webinar, Lawyer Meng detailed the preparation intricacies for H-1B applications, emphasizing the role of the company's scale and the streamlined process provided by online platforms. With an approval rate exceeding 80%, Meng addressed common pitfalls leading to application denial or requests for further evidence, such as insufficient qualifications or incorrect SOC codes.
Upcoming Regulatory Expectations
By outlining expected regulatory changes, including potential benefits for certain degrees and the loosening of definitions for non-profit exemptions, Lawyer Meng also touched upon the implications for start-up companies and the new allowances for self-petitioning.
Legal Milestones and Future Directions
A discussion on the landmark settlement in the case of MadKudu Inc., et al. v. USCIS offered webinar attendees an understanding of the new guidelines for market research analysts' H-1B petitions. This segment underscored the dynamic nature of immigration law and the ongoing efforts to provide clarity and fairness in the H-1B visa process.