{2:25 minutes to read}  What is H-1B transfer season? An H-1B visa is the type of visa used by companies to hire people for professional positions.

Each year, USCIS starts to accept H-1B petitions on April 1st. There’s a cap of 65,000 visas for non-US Master degree holders, and then 20,000 additional for US Master Degree holders. Because the cap is so low, this year USCIS only accepted petitions for 5 days. After that 5-day period, they counted the number of petitions that had been submitted and approximately 250,000 applications were filed for the 85,000 spots under the H-1B cap.

Since there was such an abundance of petitions, they conducted a lottery, and essentially, blindly chose 85,000 petitions out of the 250,000. This left 165,000 petitions returned to the prospective employers6-8 weeks after the petitions were made.

What happened to all those candidates left out in the cold? They have to search for other options, if there are any, such as the J-1 or H-3 visas.

What about the employers? A lot of employers start looking for free agents and the possibility of H-1B “porting.” Porting is when you take an existing H-1B holder and you sponsor them to be transferred to your company.

On October 1st of this year, the 85,000 new H-1B visa holders entered the market. Why is this significant? As soon as an individual enters the US on H-1B status, they are eligible to change sponsors—as many times as they have approved positions—over the course of the next 6 years. So the 2016 free-agent pool is available and free agency is in full force.

If you are a current H-1B visa holder you can change sponsors. You can recruit as many H-1B free agents as you are willing to sponsor.

Contact me today with questions or comments smaggi@smalawyers.com.


Steve Maggi, Esq.Steve Maggi, Esq.
SMA Law Firm
U.S. Immigration & Consular Law