Retailers that utilize the H-1B visa for employees in their information technology, design, marketing, buying, and planning departments should start considering their FY 2016 immigration needs now that the H-1B cap filing season is approaching (as we covered in our November 3 article, “USCIS Will Begin Accepting Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions for FY 2016 on April 1, 2015”). Employer petitions must be received by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) on April 1, 2015. Note, however, that these cap-subject H-1B petitions will have an employment start date of October 1, 2015 or later.

As the April 2015 filing period start date follows closely on the heels of the busy holiday and inventory season, now is a good time for retailers to consider any current employees or potential hires who may need H-1B sponsorship for FY 2016 and to start preparing the paperwork for those individuals. Individuals currently employed as F-1 students or J-1 trainees, individuals seeking to change to H-1B status from another visa status (such as L-1, TN, O-1, or E-3), and individuals outside of the United States might require a cap-subject H-1B petition to be filed on their behalf to continue their employment.To stay ahead of the curve, retailers should consider contacting immigration counsel now so that they are ready by March 31st for the filing deadline.