H1B Visa 2018 Lottery Predictions – Data Analysis, Trump Impact, US Economy

In H1B Visa News by Kumar66 Comments

It is again that time of the year, where it give us an opportunity to analyze and predict the H1B Visa Lottery for FY 2018…unbelievable, this is our 8th year J and we have been successful in predicting H1B trends every year, since our first H1B FY 2011 Predictions.  Our approach to H1B predictions, which started in 2010, has always been driven by analysis of historical data, macro-economic conditions, geopolitical situation and immigration policies.

In the previous years, we used to debate on whether there would be H1B lottery or not, but in the past few years, lottery or random selection is kind of taken for granted, now it is about, how many H1B Petitions can we expect, that’s the big question on the table…As always, we believe in data and current conditions in various aspects. Below are the key factors that will influence the overall H1B filings for this fiscal year.

  • H1B Cap reach Dates Historical Trends – Lottery or Not ?
  • US Economy Performance – Unemployment, GDP Growth
  • H1B Fee changes in last couple of years
  • New Trump Administration – Geopolitical changes, Immigration Agenda
  • Missed Lottery Applicants from FY 2017, 2016, etc. previous years
  • 24 Month OPT Rules, H4 EAD Rule.
  • New F1 Students Graduating, Current OPT Students

Let’s look at each of the above aspects in detail to analyze their impact on 2018 H1B lottery numbers.
 H1B Cap Reach Dates Trend – Lottery – Historical Data Analysis
It can be taken for granted that we will have lottery. No need to do the guess work anymore. So, we will have lottery for H1B Visa 2018.  Last year was record with highest of 236,000 H1B petitions for FY 2017.The previous years FY 2016 had 233,000, FY 2015 was 172,500. Logically, even if  half of the people, who were not picked in lottery last year file this year, we would have lottery. Below is the prediction portrayed in a nice graph. Also, check out History of H1B Cap reach dates 1999-2018.

H1B Visa 2018 Lottery Predictions Analysis

US Economy Performance – Unemployment, GDP Growth :
Before Trump administration took office, some feared that the economy might turn bad due to “America first” agenda and stock market might go down…but nothing happened…on the contrary, everything is doing fantastic from economy perspective and stock market is all time high. The unemployment is all time low at 4.7%  ( lower than last year’s 4.9%) and forecasted to be around that for remainder of the 2017, check below graph. To put things in perspective, the unemployment was about 8% during FY 2014 ad we ended up in H1B Lottery that year. US GDP growth rate is quite decent forecasted to be around 2% for remainder of the year. GDP growth does not look great, but not bad. Overall, the demand for high skilled H1B workers would be high as the unemployment rate is quite low. This adds up to having more H1B petitions filed for FY 2018.
US GDP and Unemployment Growth Rate

H1B Fee changes of  $4000 fee and Application Fee raise 2016 :   In December 2015, Omnibus Bill passed raised H1B fee by $4000 for certain employers with over 50 employees and 50% of their employers are non-immigrant workers, which is valid till 2025. The fact of life is that, despite the fee increase, it had no impact in FY 2017 H1B season and we had the highest number of H1B petitions filed last year. The only impact of this would be for some Indian MNCs like Wipro, Infosys, TCS, Cognizant, etc., who are in the model of off-shore.   Also, the base filing fee was $325 and it went up to $460 from December 23, 2016.  The fee increase is very meagre and it should not impact the H1B filings.  Overall, the fee increases in 2015 and 2016 will NOT have major impact on the filings. It may slightly reduce the filings from Indian MNCs and IT Body shops that are in offshore model, but should not have any impact from large firms like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc. You may check our H1B Sponsors Database to review filings.

New Trump Administration – Geopolitical Issues, Immigration Policies – H1B Impact  :  Since President Trump has taken office, there has been so many rumors, confusions based on leaked memos and H1B 130K wage limit , etc. and media confusing everyone. Overall, Trump administration’s immigration agenda is to protect American Workers Jobs and make sure foreigners are not replacing Americans’ jobs. We have at least 4 H1B Bills introduced in House and Senate , that talk about changing H1B and L1 regulations, but none of them have even passed in either House or Senate. Also, the geopolitical situation with ban for certain nationals, and extra scrutiny for foreigners at US Port of Entry is creating so much chaos in people’s lives and corporate world.  The fact of life is that none of the H1B rules and policies are passed and do not apply for FY 2018. It is safe to say that the speculations may not have any impact on the H1B filings. On the contrary, I expect this uncertainty would increase the H1B petitions because of anticipation of policies like reduction in H1B quota in future and more tighter measures going forward from FY 2019.

 Missed Lottery Applicants from FY 2017, 2016, etc. previous years:  This may sound trivial, but the odds of someone applying for H1B visa, if they have missed a chance in previous years is quite high.  We hear on the blog many people applying for H1B at least two to three times, if they were not picked in previous year’s H1B lottery. To put numbers in perspective, in FY 2017, there were 236,000 H1B petitions, for FY 2016, there were about 233,000 H1B petitions, for FY 2015 there were 172,500 applications and for FY 2014, there were about 124,000 applications filed.  If we do simple math in the last 4 years, the total applicants who were not picked in lottery were about 425,500  (236000+ 233000+172500+124000 – 4*85000 ). If even 20% of them apply, we will hit the quota. So, this is a big factor to consider and we believe, this will account for at least 30% of H1B petitions numbers for FY 2018.

New 24 Month OPT Rule, H4 EAD Rule  : The 24 Month STEM OPT Extension rule was effective from May 10, 2016. While this rule may sound great for F1 students by looking at the number “24 months”, the reality is that it is not very lucrative for employers. The amount of overhead the employers have to take for OPT program rules with mentoring and oversight is quite high…This overhead to have someone on OPT for longer period is less attractive for employers and they would rather sponsor H1B for their interested students on OPT…This will account a lot for H1B filings and we expect that it would add about 10% to 15% of the overall H1B filings for FY 2018.  Also, we had H4 Visa EAD rule that became effective from May 2015 and it gave eligibility to about 179,000 H4 visa holders and about 110,000 for 2016 and 2017. Despite these large numbers, still there are good number of H1B spouses who are not eligible for H4 EAD and may try to apply for H1B. It may slightly reduce the filings from previous years, but it will add up to about 5 to 7% in the current FY 2018 filings.

Current F1 Students Graduating, OPT Students :  US has been the destiny for many international students over last couple of decades. The growth was about 7.1% during 2015-16 academic year. A good amount of these students would graduate in 2017 May. But, we also need to also consider students from prior year as well . Overall number of the international students are over 300,000 and over 100,000 students from India alone in Graduate level and OPT. Also, about 46% of these degree holders are from STEM. Most of these students are potentially graduating or looking to work or continue on OPT.  With more overhead for STEM OPT extension, you can expect most of these students would very likely apply for H1B visa. We believe the potential filings from the current students and OPT students is around 20% of the overall H1B numbers.
OPT Students F1 Students H1B Visa 2018 Stats
Summary – Lottery Predictions for H1B visa 2018 Quota :
The key takeaway after reviewing various aspects that influence the number of H1B petitions is that despite new President Trump Administration in US, the overall stats that correspond to economy, current students, OPT holders, H1B lottery missed applicants,  H4 visa holders, etc. do not favor any significant drop in the H1B filings. Indian outsourcing MNCs and IT Body shop consulting companies may file slightly less number of petitions this year, but I feel that the it would have less impact in overall filings. There is tremendous demand for high skilled technical workers with booming economy and low unemployment rate in US…Also, with new Donald Trump administration in office, it is possible that big employers like Microsoft, Google, Facebook in US may file more H1Bs this year as the future of H1B program looks unclear with many speculations and bills around wage increases, quota cap reduction, etc.. Now, the prediction in terms of number of H1B petitions, we do not see any major slowdown in the H1B filings this year and we could anticipate anywhere from 210,000 to 240,000 H1B petitions for FY 2018.

What do you think ? What are your H1B Predictions for FY 2018 ?
References :

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Comments ( 66 )

  1. Ansh2112

    Chill guys.
    I understand everyone is frustrated and trying hard to get a better life. but keep one thing mind that it’s a lottery as in gambling. so what happens is fate.
    Good luck to those who are applying this year. not everyone can win this so let’s play in peace.
    Thanks for all the predictions but I would rather wait and see what’s going to be final numbers. coz these are more of rumours rather predictions.


  2. CTS_CBE


    Come over

    Admins created another page.. 😛

    1. Sowmya

      It is true ..Companies like CTS, TCS, Indy, HCl has greatly reduced the number of applicants ..I can wow for CTS and reduction is 3/4th ..

  3. H1B Pro

    Based on my research Outsourcing companies are filing 60% less H1B this year. I feel there won’t be any lottery this year if people don’t file multiple applications.

    Also, Multiple filing can be a problem this year.

  4. K

    Double filing is legal with two different employers. (in fact, N number of filings with N number of employers is legal).

    2 filings with 1 employers is always legal.

    What one needs to be cautious about is not a change in law, but increased scrutiny, inspection and validation of each filing (Especially since premium processing has been cancelled).

    Many scenarios are possible, but I would strongly advice that everyone stays away from using desi consultancies (the ones that fake experience etc).

    My reasoning:
    If you consider the various bills in congress currently – none of them are aimed at shutting down the H1b program, they are targeted towards consultancies that train and fake experience. Sooner or later these companies will loose their certification to apply for h1b.

    You do not want to be caught in the crossfire. In previous years, such scrutiny of employers was never conducted. We do not know how they will deal with fraud cases this year, but it will definitely not be the same lenient process that we have seen the last few years.

    1. SK


      You multiple filling is legal. Is it Legal to have two different employers filling for same employee and does designation plays any role.

      Do you see any scrutiny this year, for the person filling from valid muliple employers.

      Last thing, will user will choice to select the respected employer after the lottery

    1. Predator

      Mr Predictor – You just predict H1B or Weather As well.

      As because In North East US – Snow storm is going on

      Can you please predict & share that information as well, Thanks Man.

  5. CrazyPK

    Dont try to do Double/Triple filing this time, last year one of my friend filed double and both got picked, he cancelled one but the other is still in RFE now as process became very strict from last year. There are chances that double filings becomes invalid from this Year.

    1. H1B_helper...

      Double filing from same employer was always invalid. And obviously anyone​ can file multiple petition through multiple employers. If you’re case is valid, they’ll get approved. Please don’t misspeak.

      1. suresh

        Yes its legal but under trump anything can happen. this time surely USCIS looks for even small mistakes.

        Double fillings definitely slows the process down.

  6. Shehryar aziz

    Please, while calculating the predictions. Take into the account that 6 countries are banned from applying any kind of Visa for 90 days. This will surely affect the filings by few numbers as all of those countries were needy countries.

  7. Ram

    This year I feel the outsourcing companies will dramatically dial down there fresh H1B applications.

    In house projects with consulting companies will be near impossible to get H1B and even more difficult to get stamped. Also everybody knows genuine clients do not wait for 6 months!

    Finally American companies are trying to avoid hiring full time people on H1B .

    I predict we will not have lottery this year!

      1. S

        Possibly no lottery this year, doesn’t mean the application won’t exceed the cap. This is obvious as USCIS didn’t mention anything on lottery in the latest circular. USCIS might use a new “Model” to pick the candidates to balance geographical share and also giving importance to start ups with small number of employees.

    1. Abhinay Bandra

      Your Prediction so what correct, There be less number in h1b application filing.
      But when comes to bigger picture – Taking everything into consideration (opt’s, h4’s, Earlier years lottery not picked guys,this year aspirants, some companies who files this year) – Count crosses easily 130,000 .

    2. S

      Could have been true if USCIS hadn’t suspended premium processing. If a firm wants to hire a techie it was easier with H1B transfer, where the hiring could have been processed in a month. Since, the premium processing is suspended it would take similar time to hire someone already with H1B visa or a fresh application waiting to join in October.

  8. K

    Round 1: U.S Masters Quota
    45,000 applications
    20,000 spots
    = 0.45 or 45% chance

    Round 2: General Quota
    205,000 Applications
    65,000 Spots
    =0.32 or .32% Chance

    For U.S Masters, total change: 62%
    For General Quota: 32%

    This does not take into account 6,800 H1b visas kept aside on bilateral treaty with Chile.

    1. TRUTH Finder

      Who said 45,000 Applicants via Masters ???

      Who said that exactly 205,000 Applicants via Regular ???

      Have you Consulted any ASTROLOGER or just Your American Dream for those Numbers ???

      What is this Round 1 & Round 2 ???

      BE CLEAR MANN in Expressing your Thoughts.

      1. K

        Its an estimate using the data provided in the article as well as other sources.
        – http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/international-students-united-states

        205,000 application in general quota because I start with 225,000, and we assume that 20,000 get selected in h1b masters cap (i.e round 1).

        Round 1 and Round 2 are the H1b Masters cap lottery and general quota lottery.

        When asking questions online, please:
        1 – Try to read/understand the article thoroughly
        2 – Do not expect people to handhold you when your questions portray an utter lack of understanding and/or ability to use google for basic research.
        3 – Keep your arrogance at the door.

    1. Observer

      This year the applications will be accepted from April 3 and should be accepted probably till April 7. If you already have a sponsor, then they need to make sure that your application reaches during these dates. All the best!

    1. Shrikant

      Could you at least mention what are the areas? Like F1 or H1B things? Or maybe certain date? Sorry just curious. Can not stop thinking about it.

      1. S

        1. Here is the USCIS update on petitions published today. Very important note in the first paragraph “All the petitions filed before April 3, 2017, for the FY 2018 cap will be rejected and all petitions should come through from April 3” – https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-will-accept-h-1b-petitions-fiscal-year-2018-beginning-april-3

        2. Areas covered in H1B – https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-dod-cooperative-research-and-development-project-workers-and-fashion-models

    1. Anjaneyullu

      Companies like INFOSYS, TCS, WIPRO became SHITT (useless) under Trump Administration. THose companies have created enough MESS here in US, By bringing CHEAP Labor & Supply to Clients and Making Money . These INFY, TCS, WPRO have looted Indian Talent by shifting to US, Made enough money by Hard working Indian Talent. Indian IT Service based companies SUCK the blood like Parasites, Mosquitoes and make money out of it. NOW IT WON’T HAPPEN because of MR TRUMP

      1. Anjana

        I can understand your feelings but to be considered by Indian IT Service companies also, you need some talent and skills. Seems you don’t have it, that’s why you are whining like a baby.

        1. raj

          anjana.. Imagine US companies in India hiring workers from USA/Nepal or Srilanka to work in India because they are cheap. What would we Indians do? There would be a huge clamor to kick them out or shut the company. Every country has its own issues when it comes to employment, labor laws and sentiments of people towards it. There were so many issues from local people in karnataka for giving jobs to North Indians and other South Indians in Bangalore. People who come here for Masters degree are coming here for better opportunities, better work culture and a good career. They don’t want to get involved into petty politics environment these Indian companies have, where one has to kiss boss’ rear to get promotion or recognition.

          Here’s the take away for you:
          Don’t try to act like professor Dumbledore because you have written a few lines of code in the software sweat shop you’re working. You’re talking as if coming to USA in H1b is your birth right. Everyone deserves a better life and students in the USA deserves it the most. They have invested, worked hard and earned a degree for a better future unlike people like you. Sooner or later sweat shop like the one you are working will be penalized or forced to hire local workers.

          1. Anjaneyullu

            Well Said RAJ – hundred Likes for the Comment.

            @ Anjana – You need some talent and skills :- What Skills you have Anjana Sister that gives you Direct H1 without filling your application.

            @ Anjana – Seems you don’t have it :- How can you judge my Skills Baby.

            Don’t need your Certification Sister ( Under disguised ANJANA name


      All these Indian IT Service based companies like WIPRO,TCS,INFOSYS,CAPGEMINI do Immigration Fraud. They just FLOAT People for Money, Simply BODY SHOP the resources 2 US and MAKE Money Out of IT….. TRUMP Knows this and will be keeping a Pull-stop to this MESS Sooner.

        1. Google...

          In your dreams… Every thing is a stunt in politics… Trump won because rust belt vote… Not white collar votes… Every companies know it is about 4 yr or 8 yrs max…

          You don’t kill the golden egg laying duck… Don’t you…

          Wait and watch…

  9. Kiran

    Hi Kumar,

    It’s been more than 5 years I am following this site. I am entering again to check my fate for the THIRD TIME and probably the last and final try. Thank you so much for the information you are providing which is SIMPLE and MODERATE.

    All the best for all the aspirants of H1B 2018 !!!!

  10. Gaurav Sawant

    Going 2 US on H1b is like taking a ticket 2 HELL, Going to get killed by Anyone, Anywhere ; Life is at high Risk – Hate mongering comments by Trump. STRICT IMMIGRATION LAWS, AMERICA FIRST – No jobs or very less opportunities to Foreigners. American dream is fading – Many Companies are hiring Locals, Immigration laws are becoming stronger & stronger. NO PEACE ON H1B – Always FEAR on LIFE, Job Security, IMMIGRATION Status. FULL of HELL in USA.

    1. Google

      Look at this guy… Don’t cry like a baby… If you are a scary cat, stay home in the kitchen… Ball’less guys are not welcome anywhere…

      1. Pranab Mukerjee

        I don’t think so that many applications this year, Even more applications – SCRUTINY will be more. Visa Interview will be Toughest ever seen Before, NO client Letter – Simple Rejection, USCIS Will check all the BODY SHOPPING CONSULTING Information, Expect the Toughest time this Year.

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