On April 2, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the annual quota for fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019). As in recent years, FY 2019’s filing window will likely only be one week in duration.

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.

What Employers Can Do to Prepare

Identify Employees. 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.

Prepare Early. The number of cap-subject H-1B petitions that will be filed by employers for FY 2019 is unknown. As a result, employers should consider taking action early to initiate cap-subject H-1B petitions. This will ensure sufficient time to prepare and file all petitions before the filing window closes. Mailing cap-subject H-1B petitions early is also beneficial.

Labor Condition Application. Labor condition applications (LCA) are prerequisites for properly filed H-1B petitions. Employers should account for the fact that it may take up to 10 days for the Department of Labor to certify an LCA. Thus, timely filing and approval of LCAs is important for employers aiming to mail H-1B cap-subject petitions on March 30, 2018, for delivery to USCIS on April 2, 2018.


The number of new H-1B visas available on an annual basis is limited to 65,000 per year. An additional 20,000 H-1B visas are available to H-1B applicants with advanced degrees from U.S. academic institutions. Another 6,800 H-1B visas are for citizens of Chile and Singapore. Given these numbers, 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.

Written by Katherine C. MacIlwaine of Ogletree Deakins