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Understanding The H1-B Visa Lottery In The US

Understanding The H1-B Visa Lottery In The US

H1-B visas are a type of professional work-sponsored visa issued by the United States government. Every year, millions of non-US citizens apply for H1-B visas to work in the United States through the H1-B visa lottery. The H1-B visa lottery is one of the most critical steps for H1-B petitioners and H1-B beneficiaries to progress to the next stage in their H1-B application process.

The H1-B lottery is similar to a regular lottery, where applicants register and are shortlisted based on a random selection system. However, there are a few things that H1-B applicants must remember to increase their chances of being selected in the lottery.

Because you can’t file a petition for an H1-B visa until you have been selected in the first H1-B lottery registration round, knowing all the factors that could affect your chances of being selected for the H1-B visa Lottery is essential. For example, you must know when the H1-B lottery is held and how often the USCIS holds its H1-B lottery.

It is also crucial to understand who can apply and if you qualify for the regular or master cap. You get this info and more by talking with an immigration attorney in Texas. Once you understand all this, you will stand out from the competition and increase your chances of winning the H1-B Lottery.

Since H1-B visa applications are only accepted once per year during the application period, you must follow all the necessary steps to avoid any problems. This post will review vital information to ensure you are fully prepared before applying for the H1-B visa lottery.

What is the H1-B visa lottery?

The first lottery for H1-B was held in 2008, followed by another one in 2009. There was a gap of 4 years after that, but the situation improved again in 2014. Since then, H1-B lotteries have been held continuously until 2024. What, then, is it all about? The H1-B visa is one of the most essential H1-B visas issued by the USCIS.

The number of H1-B visa petitions that the USCIS can approve is limited to 85,000 per fiscal year. If more than 85,000 H1-B visa petitions are received, the USCIS conducts an H1-B lottery to select the candidates for the visa. For example, in fiscal year 2024, 780,884 H1-B petitions were received, which exceeded the 85,000 cap.

As a result, the USCIS will have to conduct an H1-B work visa lottery to select the candidates. In most cases, the USCIS will conduct a first round of the lottery to select the candidates to file a complete petition. However, there are many reasons why candidates may be rejected when filing their complete petitions.

This rejection causes the H1-B visa caps to remain unfilled. The USCIS will then conduct a second or third round of the H1-B lottery to redistribute the remaining H1-B caps. This only applies if H1-B visas are still available after the first round. The USCIS administers the H1-B lottery. You will be notified to submit your complete petition using the form I-129.

In other words, it is a lottery because the total number of new H1-B visas issued annually is limited to 65,000. An additional 20,000 visas are open to graduates of US Master’s degree programs. The number of applicants vying for these visas far exceeds the number of visas available.

For the past three years, the lottery has been run by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) using an online registration process that begins in March. Employers enter basic information about their company and the individual they hope to sponsor.

By the end of March, they receive an electronic notification that the individual they hope to sponsor has been chosen. Once the lottery is over, an employer must wait a year before a new registration period opens. Learn more from an immigration attorney in Texas.

How does the process work?

To apply for an H1-B visa, you must first find a sponsor and a US job. Your sponsor will then register on your behalf during the yearly registration window, typically in April. Your sponsor only needs a few details about you to register on your behalf. You must also apply for the visa through the H1-B lottery selection process before your petition stage.

The lottery selection process occurs before your petition stage and only when the H1-B visa registrations exceed the total H1-B visa caps available in a given fiscal year, typically yearly. The number of registrations during the registration window is very high. In fact, it often exceeds the yearly cap and visa availability.

The annual registration period lasts for the entirety of the period. Once the cap has been reached, the period ends. USCIS conducts a lottery to decide which registrations will be eligible for the next phase. It is a random process based on the number of registrations received in the window.

It is not on a priority basis. Selection is not based on when you submitted your registration during the window, and there is no evaluation of the merits at this stage. If you succeed at this stage, you will be notified that you have been chosen in the visa lottery.

You will then be asked to submit your complete H1-B application no later than 90 days after receiving the notification. Please note that winning the visa lottery does not guarantee receiving the H1-B visa. The petition will be assessed based on the visa eligibility and visa requirements.

Hire an immigration attorney in Texas to determine if you are eligible beforehand. If the cap still needs to be fulfilled after the first round of petitions is submitted, USCIS can run additional rounds of the lottery and invite additional workers to submit complete petitions, as it has done in past years.

The 65,000-H1-B visa cap will then be replaced by 20,000 H1-B visa Master’s cap petitions, which are randomly selected. Any petitions not selected will revert to the regular cap.

What are my chances?

Since the lottery only happens once yearly, candidates and their sponsors will want to maximize their chances of winning. Here are a few things you can do to prevent problems with your H1-B visa registration:

  1. Complete all forms correctly, submit all required information and documentation, and pay the applicable fees.
  2. Do not submit your petition before April’s opening of the H1-B application.
  3. Submit your petition as soon as the application is open.
  4. Qualify for the job by having the necessary qualifications and experience.
  5. Ensure that you meet the H1-B visa eligibility criteria.
  6. Apply for each H1-B job offered by different employers.
  7. Do not file more than one H1-B application for the same job and employer.
  8. Employers who make multiple or duplicate petitions for one employee will be denied, and fees paid will not be reimbursed.
  9. Don’t file a petition if the job will begin more than six months after the visa approval.

Following these tips will not automatically make you an H1-B visa lottery winner. However, they will ensure you are not caught up in any delays or issues that could affect your chances. It is always best to hire an immigration attorney in Texas.

How do I increase my success rate?

There is no way to improve your chances of winning the lottery. It is a random process. However, there are a few factors that can affect your chances indirectly.

  • A US Master’s Degree: You can apply for the lottery for a second time if you have obtained a US Master’s in any of the H1-B Master’s programs. This means you can apply for both the regular H1-B Visa lottery and the Masters H1-B visa lottery.
  • Looking for a job with an employer excluded from the H1-B visa cap: Some employers, such as universities and non-profit organizations, are exempt from H1-B visa application caps. Therefore, you can get employment with these employers if you want to avoid the lottery.
  • Transfer your H1-B status to another employer: If you want to transfer your H1-B visa status to another employer, you will not be required to apply for the lottery. That is because you have already been included in the total H1-B visa number you applied for.

However, keep in mind that the H1-B lottery is a random selection process. Therefore, there is no assurance that you will be included in the shortlist. Consequently, it would help to look for other H1-B options to live and work in the United States. An immigration attorney in Texas can help you work this out.

Get help!

Here at Gehi and Associates, we can assist you in completing your H1B visa petition correctly. We understand what is needed to build a solid H1-B case and will help you compile and present it. We will take care of the application process effectively. We can also advise you on other work visa options available to you.

This will significantly benefit you as the H1-B visa lottery is highly competitive. If you have any queries regarding H1-B visas or any other questions related to US immigration, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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