US: H-1B cap reminder: To ensure timely filing, gather documents and submit LCAs now

With just over two months until the start of the FY 2017 H-1B cap filing season, employers should be working with their immigration counsel to gather necessary documents and submit required labour condition applications (LCAs) so that they are ready to submit cap petitions during the week of Friday, April 1 to Thursday, April 7, 2016. 

High Demand for Cap Numbers Is Expected

Demand for the 85,000 FY 2017 quota numbers is likely to be even greater than last year, when USCIS received a record 233,000 cap petitions – about 60,500 more petitions than in the previous year. Of these, approximately 50,000 cases were submitted against the cap exemption of 20,000 reserved for holders of U.S. advanced degrees. 

Employers who are not prepared to submit their cap petitions during the first five business days of April could be shut out of access to the limited number of new H-1Bs available for employment in the next fiscal year. Missing the FY 2017 quota means that an employer would not be able to petition for cap-subject H-1B employment until April 2017 for FY 2018 start dates. 

Gather Corporate Documents and Other Supporting Evidence

H-1B petitions require corporate records, academic transcripts, degrees and other essential documents. Because these can take time to assemble, make sure to gather them from your organization and from foreign beneficiaries as soon as possible. 

Submit LCAs As Soon As Possible

Increased competition for H-1B cap numbers also means that the Department of Labor (DOL) will receive a surge of LCAs in the months leading up to April 1. 

Obtaining LCAs well in advance will help your organization avert any possible processing slowdowns at DOL. Prompt LCA filing can also help your organization be prepared for non-cap H-1B employment needs that arise in the coming months. 

If your organization anticipates a genuine need for more than one H-1B worker in an occupation at a specific work-site, discuss a multi-slot LCA with your Fragomen professional. A multi-slot LCA can also provide greater flexibility to handle time-sensitive non-cap cases, such as relocating H-1B employees to new work-sites and on-boarding new hires who are porting from H-1B employment with another organization. 

What This Means for Employers

If your organization has not yet begun to prepare for the FY 2017 H-1B cap filing season, contact your immigration professional soon to discuss your H-1B plans. There is still time, and starting now is the best way to maximize your organization’s chances of meeting its H-1B cap needs.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK