There are only eight (8) weeks before the start of the FY 2016 H-1B Cap filing season and to ensure timely filing, it is recommended that employers start submitting LCAs and gathering the necessary documents. Last year, the United States Citizen and Immigration Services received a record number of 172,500 cap petitions and it is likely that the numbers will be even greater this year. Increased competition for H-1B cap numbers mean that there will be a surge of LCAs that the DOL will receive. Last year there was a 20% increase in the number of LCAs the DOL received in the months leading up to the April 1st deadline. Obtaining LCAs and other necessary documents (corporate records, academic transcripts, degrees, and other essential documents) in advance will help avert any possible processing delays.

If a U.S. degree will not be awarded by March 31, 2015, USCIS has approved H-1B petitions for foreign nationals who have completed their requirements for a degree, but have not yet received their degree. The petition will need to include evidence that the applicant has completed all degree requirements from a school official who is qualified to provide the information such as the Registrar, School Dean or Department Head.

If a F-1 nonimmigrant student has been working using their Optional Practical Training (OPT) and their F-1 status expires before October 1, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security will extend their authorized stay if their OPT status was valid at the time of filing. Students who have completed their post-completion OPT and were in valid grade period at the time of H-1B filing will receive an automatic extension on their D/S admission, but their employment authorization will not be extended.

Please keep in mind that USCIS will deny or revoke multiple petitions for one H-1B applicant and filing fees will not be refunded.

It is possible that employers who do not submit their cap petitions during the first five (5) business days of April may not be able to access the limited number of H-1Bs available for new employment.