On May 1, prospective employers who sponsored H-1B visa candidates this year began to get receipt notices for US Masters Cap cases. In the month to follow, employers will find out the fate of the blind lottery used to determine which H-1B petitions will be adjudicated.

Every year, USCIS starts accepting H-1B petitions on April 1st. There’s only a cap of 65,000 visas for no-US Master’s degree holders and then 20,000 additional for US Master’s Degree holders.  Because the cap is so low, essentially, this year, 2019, they only accepted petitions for 5 days and then they counted the number of petitions that had been submitted and almost three times as many applications were filed as there are spots.

They did a blind lottery, and they blindly chose the petitions to be adjudicated. The ones which do not make it in will be returned to the prospective employers in the next few weeks. To make this even more complicated, the number of denials under the Trump administration is up 5X compared to under the Obama administration, so the number of positions being filled leaves another gap of 50,000 positions not being filled, which drives the supply and demand much higher in favor of those currently in H-1B status.

What happened to all those candidates that are left out in the cold? They have to search for other options, if there are any, like the J-1 or H-3 visas, or start their own companies with an E-2 visa, or just go home or to where job offers will lead them.

What about the employers? What a lot of employers do is they start looking for free agents and that’s for what is called the possibility of H-1B “porting”. Porting means if you take an existing H-1B holder and you sponsor them to be transferred to your company.

There are hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals currently on H-1B visas, and they have the ability to “port” to other employers at any time. The H-1B lottery casualties make these free agents much more marketable, and this in combination with the incredibly high denial rates on new petitions under the Trump administration, makes these individuals a much more attractive option, or really the only option left for many employers.

If you’re a current H-1B Visa holder it is time to market your skills and find a higher-paying wage. If you are an employer who had positions slated for new H-1B hires, it is time to find someone already in the market, and you can take on as many H-1B free agents as you are willing to sponsor.

Let the H-1B transfer season begin!