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How Does H1B Lottery Work?
March 11, 2022
5 mins
Closeup of a man's hand filling out documents for US visa with pen and writing pad." H1B Lottery " text written on the right corner of the picture.

This blog provides in-depth information about the H1B lottery, including details about:

If you want to work in the US, you require an H1B visa, which can only be sponsored by a US-based employer. If you have successfully passed this first stage of acquiring an H1B, you probably have heard about the H1B lottery. All H1B applicants want to know how H1B lottery works. You must first understand what the term H1B lottery means before understanding how it works.

What is the H1B Lottery?

The H1B lottery process is a random selection process used to pick H1B applicants from a large pool that runs to the tens of thousands. Back in 2007, when it was introduced, the H1B lottery was originally named by the USCIS as a " computer-generated random selection process."

However, as time progressed, people associated the process with the colloquial term "lottery." The USCIS receives thousands of H1B applications from US-based employers every year. Whenever the number of visa applications exceeds the annual H1B visa cap, the USCIS will randomly select the required number of petitions.

What is the H1B visa cap?

The H1B cap refers to how many applications the USCIS can approve in a fiscal year. One of the most common caps is the Regular Cap, also known as quota/non-advanced degree quota or cap/non-advanced degree cap. The regular cap is the most basic. Under the regular cap, the USCIS limits 65,000 H1B petitions for foreign workers with the necessary skills and qualifications. Those with advanced degrees at the master's level or above are eligible to apply for an additional 20,000 petitions.

However, the USCIS allows you to file H1B applications without going through the H1B cap. This is called Cap Exempt, which is of four categories:

  1. Higher education institution
  2. Non-profit organization associated with a higher educational institution
  3. Government research organization or non-profit research organization
  4. For-profit company seeking to hire a specialty worker for non-profit organizations

There is also another list of cap exemptions not included in the lottery. This list includes:

  1. H1B petitions that have been selected in the visa lottery
  2. Visa extensions for petitions that already have been granted an H1B visa
  3. Requests for transfer to a new employer
  4. Changes to employment details like location, duties, and skill requirements
  5. Petitions for employment in a second position

Until the H1B lottery, the entire process of H1B registration takes place in five steps. Here's a simple and easy compilation of each step in the process.

Step 1: Your employer submits the electronic registration for all the employees they intend to hire. This submission is done during the registration period allowed by the USCIS, which lasts for 14 days.

Electronic registration for FY2023 starts on March 1st, 2022, and is open until March 18th, 2022.

Step 2: USCIS conducts the H1B lottery or the "computer-generated random selection" to select the registrants.

Step 3: USCIS notifies the selected applicants and gives their employers 90 days to file the H1B petitions on their behalf.

Step 4: Employers use the standard process to file H1B petitions for prospective foreign employees.

Step 5: USCIS processes each petition and notifies the employer regarding the rejection or approval of the petition.

What are the Steps Involved in the H1B Lottery Process?

The H1B application process is just one of the many stages of the H1B visa process. The selection process is entirely random. The USCIS approves only 65,000 visas through the lottery system. An additional 20,000 visas are granted for master's degree holders. The H1B lottery itself is a four-step process.

Step 1: Initially, 65,000 slots are filled by running the lottery algorithm on a large applicant pool.

Step 2: The remaining 20,000 advanced degree slots are filled from the selected master's applicants.

Step 3: Singaporeans and Chileans have 6,800 slots allotted specifically for them.

Step 4: Cap-exempt petitions are not subject to the cap.

The H1B lottery is conducted regardless of when the petition was submitted during the initial registration period. All petitions submitted during that time period have equal chances of selection.

How many times H1B lottery in a year?

Generally, the H1B lottery takes place only once a year. Therefore, all applicants and their respective employers will want to optimize their prospects of being chosen in the lottery. However, for the Fiscal Year 2022, the USCIS has had to conduct a second round of the H1B lottery for the registrations submitted in March 2021. From the initial list of waitlisted applicants, 27,717 additional registrants were selected. On November 19, 2021, USCIS conducted round 3 of the H1-B lottery and selected 16,753 additional registrants who submitted their petitions online.

Therefore, if the need arises, the USCIS will conduct second and third lottery rounds. After the lottery rounds are done, the next step is to await your H1B lottery status. Your employer will share the details they received from the USCIS. You can check whether you have been selected in the lottery process using these details.

Also Read: Analysing Your Options if H1B is not Selected in Lottery

How To Check Your H1B Lottery Status

If your application is selected in the lottery, the USCIS sends a receipt notice to your employer via mail. It simultaneously assigns a tracking number for your case. However, you will be curious to find out if you are chosen in the lottery. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to check your H1B lottery status. You can check:

SEVIS

SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) is a portal where non-immigrant students applying under the advanced degree cap can check the lottery status.

If USCIS has processed your fee check.

All applicants must pay the H1B application fee in a check. If you are selected, USCIS will encash your check. If not, it will refund the amount. This check processing status will help you find out your lottery status too.

Your receipt number.

If you are selected in the H1B lottery, USCIS allots a 13-digit receipt number mailed to your H1B sponsor. If your employer receives this number, you will know that you are selected.

Your Form I-797

All H1B lottery winners will receive a stamped Form I-797 from the Immigration and Naturalization Services. This form is the official proof of the H1b status.

How long should you wait to get the H1B lottery results?

The USCIS does not give a definite timeline to announce the lottery results. You can expect the results for FY2023 to be announced between March 18th, 2022, and March 30th, 2022.

Conclusion

It is impossible to calculate the odds of being selected in the H1B lottery because the USCIS does not disclose the number of advanced degree exemptions. The employer's responsibility is to ensure that their candidates fulfill all the eligibility criteria before registering them. Their responsibility is also to jump into action and file the H1B petition once their candidate is selected. Therefore, it is wise to prepare the full H1B petition only after the lottery and the candidate are chosen.

Visit TechFetch H1B for more information on how to proceed further after being selected in the H1B Lottery.

**Disclaimer: All information regarding the H1B visa is subject to change. Please refer to the USCIS official website for all the latest information and updates.**

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