H1B Lottery 2020: Not Selected — What Are Your Options?

Updated on August 14, 2023
At a Glance: If you were not selected in the 2023 H1B lottery, there are still options available to you. If you have an F1 visa, you can apply for OPT (Optional Practical Training) to extend your stay and work on your student visa. If you have a STEM degree, you may qualify for a 24-month extension of your OPT. Consider applying for another degree or seeking employment at a university, which can sponsor candidates without H1B quotas. If you have an H4 visa, you can apply for a Change of Status to an F1 visa or explore job opportunities at a university. Finally, if your company has overseas offices, you may be eligible for an L1A or L1B visa.

Every year there are a huge number of H1B applications that do not get selected in the lottery process. If you happen to be part of this unlucky group, all is not lost and depending on your circumstances there may still be measures you can take to ensure can stay or work in the U.S.A. In this guide, we will talk you through some of these scenarios.

Read on to learn what you should do if you weren’t selected in the 2020 H1B lottery? Or, if you don’t know how to check your 2020 H1B lottery results, watch the video below to learn how to check your H1B lottery status.

What to Do if you Weren’t Chosen in the 2020 H1B Lottery

If you’re one of the unlucky people with an H1B lottery not selected status, there are options still available to you. Read on to learn what are your options if your H1B is not selected in the lottery.

Do you have an F1 visa?

If you are studying in the U.S.A. on an F1 visa, but your H1B was not selected, and you are due to finish this coming spring, you will be eligible for OPT (Optional Practical Training), otherwise known as an F1 OPT. This is essentially a twelve-month extension to your visa that allows you to stay and work on your student visa.

Depending on the start and end dates of your OPT, you may be eligible to stay until the application process for the next fiscal year opens the following April. If you have your application made by the time your OPT expires, you are allowed to work until the H1B selection process has been completed.

If your application is successful, you can work until 1 October, at which point you will have to change employment in accordance with your application. If however you do not get selected again, the work you engaged in between the end of your OPT and the completion of the selection process will be deemed out of status so the further you can move your OPT end date back, the better.

Did you do a STEM degree?

If you have completed a STEM degree (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), but your H1B lottery petition was not select, and you are coming towards the end of your OPT period, you may be eligible to apply for a further 24-month extension, giving you a total of thirty-six months extra time following the completion of your degree. During this time you can apply for another H1B visa during each fiscal year.

If you are not eligible for this extension and you did not receive your H1B visa, you don’t have too many options left. You can apply for another degree or postgraduate courses, you should do this for the right reasons as it is a big commitment, not just as a means to stay in the U.S.A.

Another option is to seek employment in a university, they are not subject to the same H1B quotas and caps so can sponsor as many candidates as they like. If you do this, you will have to reapply for an H1B visa the following year if you wish to change employment.

Do you have an H4 visa?

If you were applying for a Change of Status from an H4 visa to an H1B visa and you were not successful in the lottery process, you do not have many options that will see you allowed to stay or work in America. You can apply to do a degree or postgraduate certificate and apply for a Change of Status to an F1 visa.

This would allow you to stay and also make you eligible for OPT. Alternatively, you could apply for a job at a university. If you are financially secure, you could always volunteer at a university with the hope of receiving H1B sponsorship in the future.

Did you apply at an overseas office?

If you work for a company that has offices overseas as well as in America, you may be eligible for an L1A or an L1B visa if you have worked there for longer than one year. You will need to discuss this option with your employer to see if they, and you, qualify. If your company is based solely in the U.S.A., you have no option but to wait and try again the following year.

Wrapping it all up…

Have you had experience with any of these issues? Do you have any advice for people who are in a similar position? Share your thoughts with us in our comments section.

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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.