We are in the final weeks of H-1B Cap Season for Fiscal Year 2019. All H-1B petitions must be submitted with a Labor Condition Application (LCA) which can take seven (7) days or more for the Department of Labor (DOL) to process. Employers must initiate their H-1B Cap cases now or never! Time is running out if employers want to ensure that their cases can be filed with USCIS during the five (5)-day filing period (April 2 to April 6).

Background:

The H-1B category allows qualified professionals to enter the U.S. for employment in a specialty occupation. Only a limited number may be granted each fiscal year (which runs from October 1 through September 30). Under current immigration law, only 65,000 new H-1B petitions may be granted each fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 available for those individuals with advanced degrees from an accredited U.S. academic institution.

For Fiscal Year 2018, USCIS received 199,000 H-1B petition during the filing period. This was a significant drop in applications from prior years, which had been trending upward:

Fiscal Year

H-1B Cap Submissions

2018 (filing period April 2017)

199,000

2017 (filing period April 2016)

236,000

2016 (filing period April 2015)

233,000

2015 (filing period April 2014)

172,500

2014 (filing period April 2013)

124,000

In March, the DOL sees an increase in last-minute LCA filings – causing delays. The H-1B petition is a two-step process which requires an LCA be filed and certified by the DOL prior to filing the petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). In order to ensure that the LCA is received in time to file with USCIS during the 5-day filing period (April 2 to April 6), employers must initiate their final H-1B cases as soon as possible. The increased demand has resulted in a surge of LCAs being filed in March and slower processing at the DOL. Employers cannot delay in starting H-1B Cap cases.