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Analyzing Your H1B Lottery Chances
March 25, 2022
12 mins
A vector illustration of an H1B visa ID of a young woman on an American flag background.

The key takeaways from this article are:

  • Your chances of getting selected in the lottery
  • H1B lottery process
  • Selected/Not selected- what next?

H1B Visa and H1B Lottery- An Understanding

One of the best ways to find a job in the United States is getting an H1-B visa. Any specialty worker with a Bachelor's Degree or equivalent work experience can get plenty of job opportunities in the US. Your H1B visa will be valid until 3 years. After that, you can get it extended to 6 years. ( under certain circumstances, you can get additional extensions as well.) Usually, workers in the tech industry make use of the H1B visa as there is a scarcity of tech talents among American workers.

H1B Lottery- What is it?

H1B lottery is a random selection process. Every year, only a limited number of H1B visas are issued. Hence, everyone who applies for an H1B visa will not get one. The maximum number of H1B visas that can be issued in a year is known as "cap." A lottery is conducted at the beginning of April every year, and a few H1B applications are selected randomly. The selected number of applications will count towards the cap of the next fiscal year.

You must not only know about the lottery, but also some quick facts about the lottery process and frequently asked questions to understand the process better.

Example: The April 2022 lottery filled up the numbers for FY 2023. The next lottery process began in October 2022.

H1B Lottery Trends: How it Has Been in the Previous Years

To strategize filings for H-1B Cap FY 2023, we will first analyse the lottery selections that have evolved in the past years.

1. H1B Lottery FY 2022

The USCIS received 308,613 H1B registrations, including those under the master's degree exemption, during the H1B cap for the FY 2022. Based on a new selection procedure, the USCIS began accepting H1B cap-subject petitions for selected H1B applications on 1st April 2021.

What are the chances of getting selected in H1B Lottery?

As mentioned, the H1B lottery chances are not easy to estimate since it is a random selection. First, we need to know how many petitions are submitted for FY 2023 to determine your H1-B lottery chances in 2022. We can make presumptions based on what's happened in the previous years because the initial period is yet to begin.

Generally, the USCIS receives a varied number of H1B petitions every year. With the demand for H1B visas rising yearly, we can also expect more applications this year. Take, for example, the H1B Lottery season in 2019-2020. In this fiscal year, the USCIS received 201,011 applications, of which 65,000 are allotted for regular visa cap. This means there was a thirty-two percent chance of H1B lottery selection that season.

However, the USCIS moved 6,800 applications reserved for citizens of Singapore and Chile as per the FTA or Free Trade Agreement. This move lowered the odds to below 32%.

Since advanced degree exemption candidates had access to both lottery pools, they had a higher chance of selection.

If you are eligible for the regular or master's cap, your H-1B lottery master's chances and H1B lottery success rate will depend on the number of submissions USCIS receives.

2. H1B Lottery FY 2021

In March '21, the USCIS received nearly 275,000 unique H1B petitions, including those under advanced degree exemptions during the H1B Cap registration period 2021. In April, USCIS conducted a lottery to select H1B applicants and accept their petitions subject to the H-1B cap. Based on the number of H-1B visas available, almost 2.3 applicants got selected for the H-1B lottery in the year 2021.

3. H1B Lottery FY 2020

The USCIS received a total of 201,011 petitions along with those registered under advanced degree exemptions during the H1B cap 2020 filing period.

4. H1B Visa Lottery FY 2019

Out of the 170,098 visas approved in FY 2019, 65,000 petitions were allocated by the USCIS under the regular cap. Because of this allocation, applicants had less than a 38% selection chance for H1B.

5. H1B Lottery Fiscal Year 2018

In the Fiscal Year 2018, the USCIS received about 199,000 petitions, including those filed under advanced degree exemptions.

Analyzing Your H1B Lottery Chances

What are the chances of getting selected in H1B lottery in this upcoming Fiscal Year 2023? The fact is that the USCIS will not give away the exact number of advanced degree exemptions. Hence, it is not possible to calculate your chances of being selected in the lottery.

But, that does not mean you have reached a dead end. You can instead use the information related to the total number of petitions received by the USCIS. The USCIS will disclose that, and you can use that number to calculate your chances of being selected.

Interpreting the Numbers

If we take a look at the H1B lottery results in the past few years, we can easily conclude that by March 2022, we will reach the H1B cap 2022. And that will lead to another H1B lottery.

Also, the competition is expected to become more intense this year when compared to previous years. For example, during the 2019–2020 lottery season, the USCIS received 201,011 petitions. Since 65,000 among them are kept aside for the regular visa cap, the H1B Lottery percentage or chances of being selected was 32%.

During FY 2022, the number of petitions received by the USCIS was 308,000. This number also includes all those registrations that come under advanced degree exemptions.

H1B Lottery Probability- An Insight into the Process

Let us now take a look at how the H-1B cap lottery functions:

  • H1B cap refers to the annual limit on the number of petitions that can be approved in a year.
  • Currently, the H1B annual cap is 65000.
  • An additional 20,000 H1B's are set aside for people with a US Master's degree or higher.
  • H1B cap registration began on March 1, 2022.
  • All H1B employers should complete the electronic registration process and submit all basic details regarding each worker.
  • The beneficiaries of all the approved H1B cap petitioners can work in the US with an H1B status from October 1, 2022.

The petitions that are not subjected to the cap are known as cap-exempt petitions. They include petitions that are

  • Previously counted.
  • For the transfer of H1B status to a new employer.
  • For extending visa- to extend the period of stay of the H1B worker in the country.
  • Intended to change the employment terms of current H1B employees( duties, location, responsibilities, etc.)
  • Filed by a cap-exempt sponsor ( Government research centers, non-profit organizations for the purpose of offering higher education)

All the H1B petitions submitted at the time of the initial registration will get equal chances of selection in the H1B lottery. The time frame of submission will not be a criterion for the selection.

Ways to Improve Your H1B Lottery Chances

Though the lottery system is a random selection process, there are still many ways to improve your chances of getting selected. Here are some quick tips that will optimize your chances of securing an H1B visa.

Get a Master's Degree

The best way to increase your chances is to gain a Master's degree or Ph.D. This will help you qualify for the Master's cap. Students with advanced degrees stand a better chance of being selected as get the degree exemption and can participate in both lotteries.

Be Prompt

Always be on time. Prepare your petition and submit it on time so that you don't miss the cut-off window.

Submit Only One Application

If the employer submits more than one application for the same employee, the ISCIS will reject both. Hence, ensure that only one application is submitted.

4 Ways to Check Your H1B Lottery Results

Here are some ways to check if the H1B visa lottery chances have worked in your favor or not:

1. H1B application fee accepted by USCIS

An easy way to know if your petition has been selected or not is to check if the USCIS has cashed your H1B fee check. If the USCIS has collected the money, it means that your application has been selected in the lottery.

2. 13-digit receipt number given to employer

The USCIS will send a 13-digit number to your employer ONLY if your application is selected. Your employer can use the USCIS Case Status tool to enter the number and determine the status.

3. I-797 Form received from Immigration and Naturalization Services

Immigration and Naturalization Services sends a stamped I-797 Form to all lottery winners to notify their selection.

4. Information updated on SEVIS

All non-immigrant students who've applied under the advanced degree list can check their status by logging in to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information website.

2 year Extension of Post-Completion OPT Employment Authorization

F1 STEM graduates who received an initial post-completion OPT grant and whose employer is registered in E-Verify are eligible for this option.

Got Selected? Here's What You Can Expect Now

Once you get selected in the lottery process, your employer will initiate the following:

  • Get the H1B Labor Condition Application ready
  • Get the receipt notice from the USCIS
  • File the I-29 petition within 29 days of receiving the notification about the selection
  • Submission of the completed petition

Did Not Get Selected? Here is What You Can Do

The chances of H1B rejection after lottery selection are high. Hence, do not get disheartened if your H1B application did not get selected in the lottery process. If one door closes, many doors open. Here are some alternatives you can try:

STEM OPT extension

If you are enrolled in a STEM degree and are an F1 student working under OPT (Optional Practical Training), you can try to extend your OPT till you get the H1B lottery selection.

Master's Degree/PhD

If you are a student, you can pursue a Master's Degree or Ph.D. and improve your chances by the next year when you apply for an H1B visa again.

Cap-Exempt Work

Try to find a job with a cap-exempt employer. This is a great alternative option to work in the US, even if you are not selected in the H1B lottery.

Dependent Visa

If you legally marry a US citizen, L1 holder, or H1B visa holder, you can get a dependent visa and get settled in the USA as well.

Return to Home Country

The last and final option is to return to your home country. You can work more, gain experience and then again try for an H1B visa.

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

Will Premium Processing improve my H1B Lottery odds?

No, Premium Processing does not improve your H1B lottery probability. It is rather an optional service provided by the USCIS to expedite your H1B visa process by paying a fee of $2,500. Premium Processing is available for some petitions like the I-129. If you opt for Premium Processing, the USCIS will process your petition in 15 calendar days rather than the standard six months.

Will there be a second H1B lottery round?

It is too early to say if there will be a second lottery round or not. For this year's H1B cap, USCIS selected an additional 42,600 applicants than the 85,000 allowed. The buffer has been set at 42,600 if the companies don't file or are denied for other reasons. The big question is whether they are enough to fill the H1B cap. A second lottery round will not be held if most of the FY 2023 registrations are genuine.

H-1B Visa Lottery: Important Dates in 2022-2023

On 28th January 2022, the USCIS announced all the important dates to be followed by applicants in 2022 or for the first selection round for FY 2023. Here's a list of those dates:

  • 22nd February

During the electronic registration process, you can create a myUSCIS account if you don't already have one. You can create your account before registration to ensure on-time filing. Be sure to have all the necessary details before submitting your registration.

  • 1st March

The USCIS will start accepting registrations by noon Eastern Time. You may use your myUSCIS account to submit all the basic information about your employees. You may submit only one registration per eligible employee.

  • 18th March

USCIS will close the initial registration period at noon Eastern and consider only fully complete H1B cap petitions.

  • 31st March

The USCIS will conduct the H1B lottery if the H1B Cap subject is achieved and complete registrations are filed after submission. Once the lottery process is complete, the USCIS will notify all the applicants of their respective results on their account page.

  • 1st April

This is the earliest date on which petitions for H-1Bs subject to the cap can be filed for FY 2023.

For further information about the H1B lottery, please refer to the USCIS official website.

Explore the Options and Choose the Best Alternative

Even though an H1B visa is one of the most preferred choices for foreign nationals to work in the US, there are still many other alternative options available. Visit TechFetch H1B for detailed information about H1B lottery, getting selected/rejected and how to go about it from there.

**Disclaimer: H1B rules and regulations keep changing from time to time. For the latest information, always refer to the USCIS official website.**

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Article by Techfetch H1B team

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