Useful tips delivered to your inbox.
We will send you information only that's proven to be useful.
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!
Table of Contents
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 which are not selected in the H1B lottery are returned to the candidate with the filing fees.
Get the complete guide to H1B Sponsorship
Enter your email to gain instant access to the our complete guide to H1B sponsorship in the U.S.
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.
There are numerous ways to find out if you were chosen in the H1B lottery:
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Every year hundreds of thousands of international students decide to pursue their dream and decide to study their MS or...