U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin to accept H-1B petitions subject to the annual quota for fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) on April 2, 2018. As the filing window approaches, employers may want to identify current and future employees who may require new H-1B visas to work in the United States.

Given that the number of new H-1B visas available on an annual basis is limited to 65,000 per year, with an additional 20,000 available to H-1B applicants that possess advanced degrees from U.S. academic institutions and 6,800 reserved for citizens of Chile and Singapore, employers will want to prepare to file their cap-subject petitions as early as possible to help ensure a successful filing during this year’s H-1B cap window. Similarly to recent years, FY 2019’s filing window will likely only be one week in duration.

Preparing for the FY 2019 H-1B Filing Period

The number of cap-subject H-1B petitions that will be filed by employers for FY 2019 is unknown, so employers are encouraged to mail cap-subject H-1B petitions early in the filing window. March 30, 2018, will be the first day on which employers can mail FY 2019 cap petitions. Employers’ March 30 mailings can arrive at USCIS on April 2, 2018—the first day of the filing period.

Employers may want to keep in mind the time required to file and receive certification of a labor condition application (LCA). LCAs are prerequisites for properly filed H-1B petitions, and it can take up to 10 days for the Department of Labor to certify an LCA. It is important that employers are aware this processing time to ensure timely approval of LCAs. With timely filing and approval of LCAs, an employer is well-positioned to mail H-1B cap-subject petitions on March 30, 2018, for delivery to USCIS on April 2, 2018.

Employers should consider taking action now to initiate cap-subject H-1B petitions to ensure sufficient time to prepare and file all petitions before the filing window closes.