How to Find Out if You’ve Been Selected in the H1B Lottery
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.
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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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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:
- Check SEVIS
- See if USCIS has Processed Your Fee Check
- Look for Your Receipt Number
- Check Your I-797 Form
- Use and H1B Tracker
Each of these strategies is explained in more detail below.
Non-immigrant students applying under the advanced degree cap can see if they were selected by checking their records 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.
See if USCIS has Processed Your Fee Check
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.
Look for Your Receipt Number
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.
Check Your I-797 Form
The Immigration and Naturalization Service notifies lottery winners by sending them a stamped I-797 Form, which is the official proof of H1B status.
Use and H1B Tracker
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 2022 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.
When Does USCIS Start Accepting 2022 H1B Petitions?
USCIS announced on March 19th that 2021 H1B petitions will begin being accepted on April 1st, 2021.
Generally speaking, USCIS begins accepting H1B petitions six months prior to the start of the fiscal year, which in 2021 begins on October 1st.
When Will USCIS Stop Accepting 2022 H1B Petitions?
USCIS will accept H1B petitions for the 2022 H1B lottery until June 30, 2021
When Will the 2022 H1B Lottery Occur?
Generally speaking, the H1B lottery occurs sometime during the second week of April every year.
When Will the 2022 H1B Lottery Results be Released?
There is no set day on which the 2022 H1B lottery results will be released. Results may be released anywhere from April to August.
In 2019, USCIS released a note saying that all lottery petitions that had not been picked would receive notification by August 29th.
Odds of Selection in the H1B Lottery
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 Chileans 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.