The filing period for new H-1B petitions to be counted against the annual H-1B quota for fiscal year (FY) 2016 will begin on April 1, 2015. The USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) will accept petitions for FY 2016 beginning April 1, 2015, and only until the H-1B cap is reached. Employment can begin on Oct. 1, 2015. As in the last few years, we expect the cap to be reached within the first few days in April. Once reached, employers will have to wait until April 1, 2016, to file new cap-subject H-1B petitions for employment to begin on Oct. 1, 2016. Therefore, we encourage you to begin identifying current and future employees who will need H-1B visa status in 2015 as soon as possible.

There is no way to predict when this year’s H-1B quota will be exhausted, so employers should mail all cap-subject H-1B petitions on March 31, 2015, for delivery to the USCIS on April 1, 2015, the first day of the filing period. To do so, employers must first file and receive certification of a Labor Condition Application (LCA), which can take several weeks to process. An H-1B petition cannot be submitted without a certified LCA.