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The H1B Visa Lottery - A Quick Guide
graphic displaying visa lottery on a USA flag background

In this article, you will read about:

The H1B cap registration window opened at noon (ET) on 1st March 2022 and will remain open until 18th March 2022. Once registration closes, the USCIS will hold a lottery if it receives more registrations than the stipulated annual cap on H1Bs.

Let's dive into a few of the most important questions about the H1B lottery process:

  • What is H1B?
  • What is H1B Lottery?
  • What is an H1B visa cap?
  • Who qualifies for an H1B?

The H1B Visa - Quick Facts

  • The H1B visa gives the visa holder a 'non-immigrant' worker status in the USA.
  • US-based employers apply for H1B visas for any specialized international talent they wish to employ.
  • The H1B is initially valid for three years and can be extended for another three years (six years in total).
  • A random lottery is held if the number of H1B applications exceeds the number of visas available.

Before diving into the details about the H1B visa lottery, it is useful to know some details about the H1B Visa Cap and why a lottery is necessitated.

Analyzing the H1B Visa Lottery System

The USCIS adopted a computer-based random selection process called 'the US H1B visa lottery system' to deal with the excessive number of H1B visa applications. A set number of applicants are randomly selected and awarded the H1B status.

How The H1B Visa Lottery Works

  1. The general visa cap lottery process randomly picks 65000 applicants from the large pool of cap-subject petitioners who registered during the first round. Petitioners who are not accepted but qualify for an advanced degree exemption are transferred to a 'master's cap pool'.
  2. The USCIS uses a computer program to randomly select 20,000 applicants from the H1B advanced-degree petitions pool. People with advanced degrees (Masters or Ph.D.) qualify for this pool. Petitions that have not been selected in the first draw are moved into the general visa-cap pool, giving them another chance for selection.
  3. A special provision allots 6,800 spots for candidates from Singapore and Chile.
  4. Cap-exempt petitions are exempt from the lottery process.
  5. Selected petitioners are notified and invited to submit their documents for the final H1B review within a specified time frame (usually 90 days). Quite importantly, lottery process selection does not guarantee an approved visa. The submitted documents will be carefully assessed for eligibility and close fulfillment of visa requirements.
  6. Unselected petitions with the filing fees are returned to the candidates.
Lottery results will be announced on 31st March 2022. Following this, selected candidates can start filing their petitions from 1st April 2022. A 90-day filing window will be opened when the lottery results are announced.

Also read: Analyzing Your H1B Lottery Chances

The H1B Visa Process - Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is there a way to predict my chances of selection in the lottery process?
It is not possible to correctly predict the possibility of being selected in the lottery process as the USCIS does not disclose the number of exact degree exemptions. We can, however, calculate the odds of being selected in the general visa cap since we can get information about the total number of petitions USCIS receives.

Let's take a look at how we can work this out:
There were 201,011 petitions in the 2019-2020 lottery season. Of these, 65,000 are allotted for the general visa cap pool, giving you a 32% chance of being selected. This probability reduces a little lower than 32% when we figure in the 6,800 allotments reserved for Chile and Singapore citizens (fulfilling the Free Trade Agreement).

With such a low probability of success, it is understandable that applicants and their employers will do all they can to maximize their chances of being selected.

POINT TO NOTE: Exact odds of selection depend on the total number of filed petitions and whether you are eligible for the master's quota or the regular cap.

2. How can I maximize my chances of getting selected in the lottery?
You can adopt the following steps to maximize your chances of getting selected to avoid any registration issues and ensure that you are following all the process requirements:

  • Check all forms for completeness and accuracy of information. Ensure that all requested documents have been included and that the correct amount has been paid as filing fees.
  • Wait for the application window in April to submit your H1B petition.
  • Submit the petition as soon as the application window opens.
  • Ensure that educational degrees showing your eligibility for the job have been included.
  • Make sure that the selected job is eligible for an H1B visa.
  • Each job offer you have will require a different application from the concerned employer.
  • Multiple applications for a single candidate or job from the same employer will be rejected with no fee refund.
  • It is not a good idea to file a petition for a job that will start more than six months after the visa start date.

3. How will I know if I am selected?
All information related to your application will be updated on your USCIS online account. The lottery results, the status of your application, and all related information will be updated here.

4. What happens if I don't get selected?
If you were not selected in the lottery, your documents and filing fees would be duly returned. You have the option of refiling your petition next year, but there is no guarantee that your chances for selection will improve.

So, when does H1B lottery happen? The H1B lottery process does not happen every year. It is held only when the number of filed petitions exceeds the allotted number for cap count for a given year.
The information we have provided will give you a good understanding of the process involved in the H1B lottery to avoid delays or errors that will bar you from being included in the lottery process. Following these instructions carefully will ensure that you get the maximum probability of being selected.

Select TechFetch H1B for the Best Information on H1B

For any and all information relating to H1B, the process and application, visit TechFetch H1B. Here you will find all that you need to understand the process better.

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

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Article by Techfetch H1B team

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