How to Find Out if You’ve Been Selected in the H1B Lottery

Updated on October 17, 2023
At a Glance: The H1B visa lottery is a selection process for applicants seeking H1B visas in the United States. It includes an advanced degree petition lottery and a general visa cap lottery. The advanced degree lottery randomly selects 20,000 petitions, with the rest moving to the general visa pool. The general lottery selects 65,000 petitions, with additional visas for citizens of Chile and Singapore. Cap-exempt petitions are not part of the lottery. Applicants can check SEVIS, fee check processing, receipt numbers, I-797 forms, or use an H1B tracker to find out if they were selected. Important dates include petition acceptance, end date, and lottery result release (typically April to August). Odds vary but are around 38% for the general lottery.

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.

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.

Check out Stilt’s new H1B database to find an H1B sponsor in your profession or city!

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 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 2024 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 2024 H1B Petitions?

USCIS announced that the H1B cap registration window for the financial year 2024 opens on March 1, 2023. Traditionally, USCIS starts accepting H1B petitions six months before the fiscal year begins, which for 2024 is October 1st.

When Will USCIS Stop Accepting 2024 H1B Petitions?

The H1B cap registration window for the fiscal year 2024 closes on March 17, 2023.

When Will the 2024 H1B Lottery Occur?

The initial H-1B lottery for FY 2024 was conducted in March 2023. During this period, USCIS selected 110,791 registrations to meet the annual H-1B numerical cap. USCIS has recently announced that a second H-1B lottery will be conducted to select more registrations to reach the H-1B numerical allocations for FY 2024, but the exact date for this second lottery has not been disclosed.

When Will the 2024 H1B Lottery Results be Released?

Those selected in the initial H1B lottery for 2024 were notified by March 31, 2023. As for the second H1B lottery, petitioners or their authorized representatives should monitor their myUSCIS online accounts in the coming weeks to check their selection status. Once the second lottery concludes, USCIS will announce its completion and start notifying those selected. Historically, notifications for those not selected have been released by the end of August, but exact timelines can vary.

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.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.