H1B Lottery Results: How to Find Out if You’ve Been Selected in 2020

Posted by Rohit Mittal

One of the biggest obstacles H1B applicants face in obtaining a visa is the H1B lottery. While candidates for the H1B visa are judged based on their credentials, education, and professional experience, every applicant is on even footing in the lottery.

The lottery draws from the pool of approved H1B applications randomly, with a general cap and a cap for advanced degree petitions. The following article details how the lottery works, what your chances are, and how to check H1B lottery results.

Check out our video guide “How do I know if I am selected for the H1B lottery?” or read on to learn more!

How the H1B Visa Lottery Works

While the United States Citizen and Immigration Services agency approves around 200,000 H1B visa petitions each year on average, only 65,000 are granted visas through the lottery. 20,000 additional petitions are entered into the lottery for advanced degree exemption, which awards visas to applicants with Masters and Ph.D. degrees.

The following is a brief outline of how the H1B visa lottery works. First, the advanced degree petition lottery is selected. A computer program randomly selects 20,000 petitions from the overall pool of advanced degree petitions. Advanced degree petitions that are not selected in this first pool are subsequently transferred into the general visa cap pool, where they will have another chance at selection.

Next, the general visa cap lottery selects 65,000 petitions. Citizens of Singapore and Chile are reserved for an additional 6,500 H1B visas. All entrants into the general H1B visa lottery have an equal chance of being selected.

Finally, there are cap-exempt petitions that are exempted from the lottery. Only the following petitions are cap-exempt:

  • Petitions that have already been selected in the visa lottery
  • Visa extensions for petitions that have already been granted an H1B visa
  • Changes in employment details (location, required expertise, duties)
  • Petitions for transferring to a new employer
  • Petitions for a second position of employment

Petitions which are not selected in the H1B lottery are returned to the candidate with the filing fees.

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Odds of Selection

The USCIS does not disclose the number of advanced degree exemptions, so it is impossible to calculate the exact odds of being selected in the H1B lottery (since some of those exemptions will transfer to the general visa lottery after 20,000 are selected). However, the USCIS does disclose the total number of petitions so we can calculate the chances of being selected towards the general visa cap.

In 2018-2019, there were 170,098 H1B visa petitions approved, and 65,000 allocated for the visa cap, which comes out to a 38% chance of being selected. Since 6,500 visas are set aside for Chilean and Singaporeans, though, the final odds of being selected will be slightly lower than this.

Also, individuals with advanced degree exemptions stand a better chance of being selected, since they participate in both lotteries.

How to Find Out if You Were Selected in the H1B Lottery

There are numerous ways to find out if you were chosen in the H1B lottery:

  • Non-immigrant students applying under the advanced degree cap can see if they were selected by checking their record with the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). This record is updated immediately upon a student’s selection after the H1B 2019 lottery results date, so this is the quickest way to find out if you were chosen.
  • Applicants must pay an H1B application fee in the form of a check. Since all unselected petitions have these fees refunded, you know you were selected in the lottery if the check is cashed by the USCIS.
  • Each candidate selected in the H1B lottery is assigned a 13-digit receipt number, which is mailed to your H1B sponsor upon your selection. Once your employer receives this number, you know you were selected.
  • The Immigration and Naturalization Service notifies lottery winners by sending them a stamped I-797 Form, which is the official proof of H1B status.
  • Trackitt.com offers an H1B tracker that allows you to monitor the status of your H1B application and will update if you are selected in the lottery.

H1B Visa Lottery 2019 Dates

As with all immigration applications, the H1B visa lottery has some dates and milestones all applicants should be tracking. Read below to learn about those dates and the latest H1B lottery news.

H1B Lottery System starting April 2019

In January 2019, DHS approved a new merit-based H1B lottery system which is set to begin on April 1, 2019. The lottery will include paper filings staring that date, but online H1B registration is suspended for the 2020 H1B season.

H1B Lottery 2019 Update Apr 5, 2019

On April 5, 2019, USCIS reported having received 25% more H1B applications that it’s 65,000 cap and announced it would no longer be accepting applications for the 2019-2020 season.

H1B Lottery 2019 Update Apr 11, 2019 – Selection Completed

The USCIS H1B lottery has officially closed and no more applications will be accepted.

More than 201,000 H1B petitions were filed during the period (including petitions for the advanced degree exemption).

All H1B filings that were submitted but that are not selected will have their filing fees returned.

H1B Lottery 2019 Update Apr 22, 2019 – Lottery Receipts Sent Out

H1B applications have reported receiving their lottery receipts this week for regular filings. H1B applicants with premium processing began receiving their receipts on April 15.


Most participants in the H1B visa lottery wait in agonizing anticipation for the results, sometimes not hearing the news until they receive their official receipt number, or until their check is either cashed or returned. There are various ways that you can get the news quicker, though, from sites like Trackitt.com to the SEVIS database.

The best you can do as a petitioner is to ensure that you’ve put together a detailed and accurate petition and that your petition is entered on time, following the proper procedure. From there, stay on top of your visa status using the tools listed above, and hope for the best.

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