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Analysing Your Options if H1B is not Selected in Lottery
March 25, 2022
5 mins
US visa document with the flag of the United States of America in the blurry background.

This blog provides in-depth information about the:

  • H1B lottery
  • H1B cap
  • Cap exemptions
  • Registration process.

The H1B lottery system is like a trump card determining your luck of obtaining an H1B visa. Every year, only about 85,000 applicants receive good news regarding the lottery results. For the rest of the applicants, it can be quite a disappointment. Fortunately, all is not lost. If you happen to be a part of this unfortunate group, please know that there are certain measures that you can take to ensure achieving your H1B lottery status.

Let's unpack the details.

The H1B Lottery: A Quick Recap

The H1B lottery selection is nothing but a random selection process of picking H1B applicants who get to go to the next stage of the H1B visa process. Therefore, the lottery itself is not everything. It is only a phase in the entire process. The USCIS conducts the H1B lottery to meet the H1B cap. A total of 85,000 applicants are chosen, of which 65,000 are fall under the regular cap, and the remaining 20,000 are applicants with a master's degree.

So, what is the H1B cap? It is a limit that determines the number of foreign workers authorized by the USCIS to work in the United States.

What is the H1B cap lottery? It is the annual limit set for regular petitions filed under the regular quota, where the applicants meet all the requirements of the H1B visa. The USCIS allows 65,000 applicants under the regular cap.

What is the Master's quota? The US Congress sets the annual limit for H1B petitions to be filed under the Master's quota or Advanced Degree Quota. To be eligible for the Master's quota, the applicant must have a Master's degree or higher from an eligible university.

More on H1B lottery selection.

So, what will you do if H1B is not picked in lottery? Does that mean you cannot accomplish your dream of working in the USA? Certainly not. There are some options for trying out and improving your chances of obtaining your H1B visa and flying to the US with bright career prospects.

Also Read : The H1B Lottery & its Significant Role in the H1B Visa Process

List of 6 Options if H1B is not Selected in Lottery

The USCIS conducts the H1B lottery process every year. For those who are selected, it opens the gateway to moving ahead with the H1B visa process. If you are not selected, your best option is to try your luck in the following year. You can also explore other options such as:

1. Transferring to a different study program

By transferring to a different study program, you will be eligible to obtain a different visa other than H1B. You can choose this option based on your F1visa or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).

If you have an F1 visa

Suppose you don't get picked up in the H1B lottery while on an F1 visa; you can apply for OPT (Optional Practical Training), or F1 OPT. This allows you to work while still on your F1 visa. Your OPT start and end dates will determine your eligibility to stay until the application process for the following fiscal year opens.

You can work until the H1B selection process has been completed if you make your application before your OPT expires. If you are not selected again, you will be considered out of status for the work you completed between the end of your OPT and the completion of the selection process. Therefore, you should move your OPT end date back as far as possible.

If you have a STEM degree

Not being selected in the H1B lottery despite having a STEM degree makes you eligible to apply for a 24-month extension and transfer to another study program. If you have Curricular Practical Training (CPT), you can also pursue employment authorization.

Generally, as per the rules, F1visa holders should not work during their first academic year. However, this restriction does not apply if you have used your F1 status before transferring to complete an academic program.

Another option for STEM students is to find jobs at universities. Since universities are not subject to the same H1B quotas, they can sponsor many candidates. To do this, you have to reapply for an H1B visa the following year.

2. Applying for a Change of Status with your H4 visa

You may not have many options if you are trying to change your status from an H4 to an H1B visa during the lottery process and is not successful. The only possibility is to take a degree program or postgraduate certificate program and apply for an F1 visa Change of Status.

3. Trying to secure a job with an H1B-cap exempt employer

Some employers in the US are not subject to the annual H1B limitations. Some of the H1B cap-exempt employers are:

  • Higher educational institutions
  • Government research organizations
  • Non-profit research organizations
  • Affiliated non-profit entities

Finding employment with any one of these employers is a good option for those not selected in the H1 cap lottery. You must file an H1B lottery application in the future if, after working in H1B status with a cap-exempt employer, you decide to work for an employer subject to the H1B cap.

4. Checking for non-immigrant category eligibility

There are some non-immigrant categories for citizens of certain countries, such as:

  • Singapore and Chile: Chileans are allotted 1,400 visas, and Singaporeans have 5,400 visas, making them eligible to work under the H1B1 status.
  • Australia, Canada, and Mexico: Australian nationals are eligible for employment under the E-3 visa. Canadians and Mexicans are eligible under the TN visa.
  • For foreign nationals of qualified treaty countries, there is also the E-1 treaty trader visa and the E-2 treaty investor visa.

5. Entering the USA under the L1A or L1B status

If you have worked with a qualifying organization for at least a year, you can discuss your options with your employer to enter the US with an L1A or L1B status. However, if your company is based only in the US, you will have to wait and try your luck next year.

6. Working remotely from abroad

Finding remote employment with a US-based employer is the only best option if all the other options are not viable. This option is apt for F-1 students who have exhausted their OPT duration and have not been selected in the H1B lottery. A word of caution: You might have to consider the tax implications of holding a remote job. Also, your physical presence maybe necessary for high-security jobs.

The Bottom Line

Not being selected in the US H1B lottery is not the end of the road. If you are not selected, there are many options to consider. When faced with such uncertainties, it is always wise to reach out to experts who can guide you the right way.

TechFetch H1B is your best bet for insights regarding H1B visa. Please check our website for any queries regarding your options to work in the US, even if you are not selected in the lottery.

** Disclaimer: All H1B-related information is subject to change. Kindly refer to the USCIS website for the latest updates regarding the H1B visa process.**

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Article by Techfetch H1B team

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