At the beginning of every H1B cap filing period, both H1B employers and candidates have some essential questions like ‘Will there be an H1B lottery this year?’, ‘What are the odds of getting selected in the H1B visa lottery?’ So on and so forth.
Each year, non-US foreign nationals apply for an H1B visa to work in the US and take their chances with the H1B lottery. Since the applications are accepted only once a year during the application window, it is essential to know all the steps correctly to avoid any confusion. Our blog will discuss the H1B visa lottery and its role in the broader visa application process.
So how to proceed with the H1B lottery visa application?
The lottery is one of the many stages in the H1B application process. Firstly, applicants must have a sponsor lined up to back their application. The sponsor will submit a registration form for the worker during the annual registration window taking place in April. The registration requires only brief details relating to the applicant.
H1B Visa Quota F.Y. 2023 – Masters vs. Regular Cap
There are two categories under the H1B visa category: one is the regular quota, and the other is for people who hold a Master’s degree. US Congress has set a limit of 85,000 on the number of H1B Visas issued per year. That limit is called as ‘H1B quota cap’. As of today, below are the annual quota caps set for each of them, and they apply to H1B fiscal year 2023 as well.
- H1B Regular Quota: 65,000 visas
- H1B Master’s Quota: 20,000 visas ( only US Masters eligible)
One more important thing to note here is that there are about 6.800 visas set aside for the citizens of Singapore and Chile as part of their Free Trade Agreement. These 6,800 are categorized as H1B1. So, technically the total count is less than 85,000 per year for the H1B quota. But, in general, only a few hundred are consumed by the Singapore and Chile countries.
Some attempts were made to increase the H1B Cap for regular quota to 110,00 and master’s quota to 25,000 under the Obama administration, but US Congress passed nothing.
How does the H1B visa lottery work?
The annual registrations made during the registration window typically exceed the yearly cap level and the number of available visas. The registration window remains open for the entire period, even after the cap has been exceeded. Selection is not made on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Once the window is closed, USCIS carries out the H1B visa lottery to identify the registrations invited to the next stage. This is a random selection process that is received under a specific window. The lottery selections are also made randomly and are not determined by when the window of registration was submitted, nor is there any assessment of the merits of the registration.
Once the 65,000 caps have been filled, 20,000 petitions will be randomly selected from the Master’s Cap petitions. Any of the 20,000 not chosen will go back into the regular cap.
Successful registrations are notified and invited to submit their complete H1B petition within a specified period, usually 90 days from notification. It is also important to remember that selection in the visa lottery will not guarantee that your visa will be granted.
H1B 2023 registration process for the lottery
Previously, employers had to send the entire H1B package with the fee, H1B LCA, and supporting documents to be eligible for the H1B lottery. It was a considerable effort, time & money investment for employers and USCIS to handle this.
To make this process more efficient, starting from the H1B 2021 season, USCIS implemented a registration process. The fiscal year 2021 was the first season they successfully implemented and rolled out the H1B registration process. Currently, employers do not send the H1B Package. They submit H1B registrations for their applicants using an online system.
What is the registration fee?
H1B Registration fee is $10 for every applicant, and the employer pays it. Employers need to register the applicant they plan to file H1B for by filling out basic information related to the applicant. Below are the details that they need to submit for each H1B applicant:
- The legal name of the H1B applicant
- Gender of the applicant
- Option to select, if the applicant is eligible for US Masters H1B Quota
- Date of birth
- Country of birth
- Passport number
H1B lottery based on wage levels
H1B applicants. Currently, the process depends entirely on luck, and no particular preference is given to anyone. During the Trump administration, there was a proposal to change this, and select H1B registrations based on the wage levels of DHS that said that better-skilled H1B workers are paid higher wages and higher wage levels. The goal is to hire individuals with better skills.
This rule was published in the federal register and was about to be implemented. But, a court case was filed in October 2020 challenging this rule, and eventually, in September 2021, the court canceled it.
What happens if you don’t win the lottery?
People who don’t win the lottery must wait until the next fiscal year before reapplying for an H1B visa.
What are the chances of H1B lottery selection?
H1B visa is one of the most sought-after visas in the US. In recent years, there have been more H1B applications received by USCIS than the required number of 85,000 per year. To address high-demand situations, USCIS introduced the concept of random selection, aka as H1B Visa Lottery. In this H1B lottery process, USCIS usually selects the required number of applications to meet the 85,000 quotas. In the most recent F.Y. 2022 year, there were 308,613 registrations submitted for the H1B lottery. We don’t expect the demand to go down by the numbers.
In the 2019-2020 season, applicants had a 32% chance of being selected in the visa lottery. Since the lottery takes place only once a year, applicants and their potential sponsors want to ensure their prospects of success are maximized.
Below we have detailed a few steps to avoid any problem with your H1B registration:
- Ensure that all forms are filled out correctly, all requested information and documents have been provided, along with correct fees are being paid
- Don’t send your H1B petition before the opening date of the application window in April
- Submit your petition as soon as the window opens
- Ensure you have all the required degree or specialist experience to meet the requirements for the job
- Ensure that the job you are applying for qualifies for an H1B visa
- Apply for each job offer you have with different employers
- Don’t send multiple applications for one position or one employer. If an employer makes multiple or duplicated H1B petitions for a single employee, they will be rejected, and no refund offered
- Don’t enter a petition for a job that will start more than six months after the visa start date
While these won’t increase your chances of being selected, following these steps will ensure you are avoiding any potential delays or problems during the lottery selection process.
What happens if you win in the H1B visa lottery?
If you are among the lucky folks selected for the H1B lottery, you will be notified and asked to file your H1B cap petition. Your employer must also submit a Labour Condition Application form ETA-9035 (LCA) to the United States Department of Labor for certification. The LCA should state the employer’s agreement to:
- Pay you a wage that is not less than the wage paid to similarly qualified workers, or more than the wage of equally skilled workers
- Provide you with working conditions that will not affect negatively on other similarly employed workers and that there is no current strike or lockout taking place when the Labor Condition Application is filed
Once the certification is granted, the employer must submit a Non-immigrant Worker Petition form I-129 and the certified LCA to the relevant USCIS Service Centre. Once approved by the non-immigrant worker petition, you may apply for your visa through the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application system form DS-160. You will be expected to attend an interview at your local US Embassy or Consulate.