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When you are in the process of trying to acquire your H1B visa, everything may happen according to plan until you face the H1B lottery system. It is one of the biggest obstacles most H1B applicants face in getting the H1B visa.
The H1B lottery puts all applicants on an even footing, even when judged on their credentials and educational qualifications. As its name signifies, the H1B lottery randomly selects from a large pool of approved H1B applicants. Because of this random selection process, there is no way of confirming if you will be on the selected list or not. This uncertainty is what makes the process so daunting for H1B applicants.
Let us now get familiar with the detailed H1B lottery process, but before that take gives a glance to H1B visa.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS approves nearly 200,000 H1B visas every fiscal year. However, only a total of 85,000 visas are granted every year. Of this number, 65,000 visas are granted under the regular cap, and the remaining 20,000 are allotted applicants holding a master's degree.
If you are applying for your H1B visa this year (2022), you should know the important dates related to the H1B lottery process. Here's a compilation of the H1B visa 2022 timeline:
February 1st, 2022
The registration line opened for attorneys, employers, and representatives to register in their 'myUSCIS' accounts from noon EST.
March 1st, 2022
Registration portal opened for the Fiscal Year 2023. Employers can use this portal to create an online account and submit their prospective employees' information. They also have to pay a non-refundable fee of $10.
March 18th, 2022
This date signals the H1B application deadline 2022. The H1B registration submission window closes, and no more registrations will be accepted thereafter. The USCIS will conduct the H1B lottery to select 85,000 applicants from the regular and master's cap as in the previous years. As a part of the Free Trade Agreement, Chilean and Singaporean citizens are entitled to 6,800 H1B visas.
March 31st, 2022
The USCIS will notify the employers if their applicants are selected in the lottery. Employers should then file the H1B petition on behalf of the selected applicants and approve them to obtain the H1B visa.
April 1st, 2022- June 30th, 2022
90-day window for filing the H1B cap-subject petition.
October 1st, 2022
Employees with a valid H1B visa can begin working for their US-based employers.
What are my odds of being selected in the H1B lottery? This is the million-dollar question all H1B applicants ask. Unfortunately, it is impossible to calculate your odds of being chosen because this is a random selection process. Besides, the USCIS does not disclose the number of advanced degree exemptions. It may also transfer some of the exemptions to the regular cap after the 20,000 applicants are selected.
However, there is still a chance of calculating your odds of being selected in the general visa cap or regular cap since the USCIS only discloses the total number of petitions received.
Here's a list of predictions to calculate the chances of getting an H1B visa 2022:
1. Increase in registrations
Experts predict that there will be a massive increase in H1B registrations, given the registration system's success in the past two years.
2. Possibility for the second lottery
A second lottery round or even a third one is likely to happen in this FY2023 because there were three lottery rounds last year.
3. Premium Processing updates remain unavailable
In the past, USCIS suspended premium processing for H1B cap-subject petitions during the first several months of the year, such as April and May. However, they did not do that for FY 2022 because the petition window has been extended to 90 days. Since FY 2021 season has been suspended, premium processing will be available starting June 22nd, 2020.
Please note that there is no official update regarding this news for FY2023.
Once the USCIS conducts the H1B lottery, all H1B applicants eagerly look forward to the lottery results to determine if luck has favored them. Here are some of the most common methods to check the H1B lottery results.
1. Check SEVIS
Use the Student Exchange Visitor Information System to check your H1B lottery results. This portal can be used by all non-immigrant students applying under the advanced degree cap.
2. Check Form I-797
H1B lottery winners are notified by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) by a stamped I-797 Form which is an official document proving H1B status.
3. Check if USCIS has processed your check fee
All H1b applicants have to pay the H1B application fee in the form of a check. The USCIS will only cash the check of the selected applicants. If the USCIS has cashed your check, it indicates that you are selected.
4. Check your receipt number
The USCIS sends a 13-digit selection number to your employer if you are selected.
The USCIS calculates the number of registrations needed to meet the annual H-1B cap based on several factors, such as:
In 2021, despite having not fulfilled the annual quota of 85,000 cap-subject in the first round, the USCIS had intimidated the possibility of conducting a second lottery round. The second lottery round was conducted on June 28th, 2021. The USCIS included selections from the registration period within March 9th, 2021, to March 25th, 2021. Registrants selected in the first lottery could file their petitions between April 1st, 2021, and June 30th, 2021.
In July 2021, USCIS announced the second lottery round results, where an additional 27717 applicants had been selected to meet the annual quota. Selected applicants were asked to submit their H1B petitions between August 2nd, 2021, and November 3rd, 2021. The USCIS had also sent information to all the employers regarding the selected applicants.
Thanks to the second lottery round, thousands of applicants had a chance to get their H1B visas. This also included hundreds of IT professionals from India.
H1B third lottery
The USCIS conducts the third lottery round to close the numerical gap for the fiscal year. Here's what happened in 2021.
USCIS revealed on November 19, 2021, that it must select a few extra registrations to touch the numerical allocations in FY2022. This includes the advanced degree exemption too. This was an unusual announcement because the USCIS has already received enough applications after the first lottery round. A second-round was also conducted in July 2021, as it hadn't received enough applications after the first round.
Please note that the USCIS Fiscal year starts from October to September. Therefore, applicants selected in FY2022 can begin working from October 2022.
Points to note about the H1B lottery:
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**Disclaimer: All information related to the H1B visa is subject to change. Please refer to the USCIS official website for the latest updates.**