What is H1B Visa Lottery Process ? What has USCIS Done that in past ?

In Apply H1B Visa by Kumar183 Comments

Many of you would be a wondering about the H1B lottery. I see lot of questions around lottery.

  • How would the H1B Visa lottery work ?
  • What is the process of lottery ?
  • What would USCIS do for FY 2017, if we end up in lottery situation  ?
  • How have USCIS done lottery it in the past ?

Let me take some time to address some of these questions. We have another article that has clarifications on the same : All About H1B Visa Caps and Lottery.

What is H1B Visa Lottery ?  Do you have to buy a H1B lottery ticket? Process ?

When you look at the term lottery, it is very misleading for new people. I had seen questions from users asking, “where should I buy H1B Visa 2017 lottery ticket ? I want to get H1B…”   Firstly, let me clarify, there is nothing like buying a lottery ticket for H1B visa. You cannot buy any H1B lottery ticket.  It is just the terminology that is used. It was officially called as Random Selection by USCIS, but they have also mentioned the term Lottery in this year’s press release, because, it is more colloquial and help users understand the process of Random selection.

How has USCIS done Random Selection or H1B Lottery in the past ? What is the process ?

Historically, we had H1B visa lottery in 2008 for the fiscal year 2009 quota, and recently as of last year, USCIS received about 233,000 applications for H1B 2016 quota, and there was lottery as well.  If you look at the probability, USCIS received almost 2.7 times the actual cap subject number of about 85,000 numbers (65,000 regular quota  + 20,000 Masters quota).  They tagged each petition with a number and used that to run the random algorithm.  The random selection was first run for Masters quota and the petitions that were not selected in masters quota, were put down in the general quota pool and random algorithm was run on the same for general quota cap.  All the selected petitions were processed.

How would H1B Visa Lottery Process work? How about for FY 2017 ?

Let me elaborate more on how the lottery would work, if we were to get one for H1B visa 2017 quota, it would follow the similar process, as USCIS has historically followed this process since 2008.

  • Step 1 : First step that USCIS would do as soon as it receives a H1B petition is to label and identify each of the petitions with a unique identifier. This is the number that would be used for random selection algorithm.  Once it is labeled, they will group the overall petitions into two sets, one as masters quota and one as regular quota.
  • Step 2 :  If there are more than 20,000 petitions received for masters quota, they would run a computer generated random selection process, which is called H1B lottery, across all the masters petitions pool to pick the 20,000 petitions that would meet the cap for Masters quota for FY 2017.
  • Step 3 :  All the H1B petitions filed under master’s quota, that did NOT get selected in the lottery or random selection are placed or combined with all the pool of petitions received regular quota H1B petitions.
  • Step 4 :  If the total number of petitions in the combined pool are over 65,000 petitions, which is the cap limit, a computer generated random selection process is run on the pool to identify the petitions that will qualify for the regular quota cap limit.
  • Step 5 :  USCIS will send the list of all selected petitions numbers to the service centers. The USCIS service centers will proceed with next level H1B Visa processing for adjudication of the selected petitions.
  • Step 6 : All the petitions that were not selected in random selection process or lottery will be returned to their respective parties either attorneys or the employers directly along with the Fee. If there were duplicate filings for a same employee by an employer, no fee will be returned. More info below on this step.
  • Step 7 : USCIS will inform all the selected petition holders with their case number for tracking purposes during processing. It will be an EAC number. Read more on the H1B Visa EAC Numbering Info 

What happens, if you do not get selected in H1B Lottery ? 

If you do NOT get selected in Lottery, you would get a rejection letter and the filing fee is returned to the employer. Check out Sample H1B Rejection Lettery – NOT Picked in Lottery 

Does that give you a good understanding on the H1B lottery process  ?

Are you looking for H1B FY 2016 Lottery Predictions ?
Check out H1B Visa 2016 Lottery Predictions, USCIS Data Trends

Did I miss anything ? Any comments to add ?

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Comments ( 183 )

  1. Waqar

    I am on b1/b2 visa and my ist entry is till 15 May 2016 so can I apply for h1 visa.i got my m.phil in agriculture economics from Pakistan and mba from uk.anyone can help me regarding this?

    1. administrator


      An employer can file H-1B for you (you don’t apply for H-1, an employer does). Few things that may go wrong or delay your H-1 petition:

      – USCIS will have to determine if you entered US on B-1/2 only so that you can apply for H-1 (which is a misuse). If they feel that you misused B-1 then it could hamper H-1 petition

      – You are from Pakistan and that could cause the petition to get stuck in security check (unfortunately). This could delay the processing and may sound disadvantageous to potential employer

  2. Shahzad

    I have B1 visa and need to apply for H1B visa. Can anyone help me to get work authorization or H1B visa?


  3. sandeep

    Hi Kumar,
    I got my H1B picked in lottery but got an RFE. Can i change the employer now?

  4. Sekhar

    I’m currently on L1B visa and working for Indian MNC in USA. My company told me that they have filed, H1B visa and it’s not got selected in lottery.

    Now, how can I make sure whether they have really applier or not? Bcoz I heard some rumors about my company process.

    When I ask for receipt number, they are telling.. they haven’t received any receipt number bcoz it’s not selected in lottery.

    Can someone help me to understand the process?

    1. H1BHopeful

      Ask for lottery rejection notice. All petitions that were filed for H1B 2015 and that were subject to the cap, will receive a rejection letter that states that petition was unselected.

  5. RedSun

    My Employer still says my H1 lottery result is pending with USCIS .
    Can there be any more hopes ?? as this August Already !! any one still on the same boat ??

    1. Gopinath

      could any one suggest on this status, still my status shows as below:-

      On April 13, 2015, we received your Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Receipt Number EAC1514251***, and sent you the receipt notice that describes how we will process your case. Please follow the instructions in the notice. If you do not receive your receipt notice by May 13, 2015, please call Customer Service at 1-800-375-5283. If you move, go to uscis.gov/addresschange to give us your new mailing address.

  6. imran

    Hi Everyone,

    I have applied for h1 and i have USCIS number ( when i am trying to search status the following message appears can you please help me to understand what is next?

    On April 13, 2015, we received your Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Receipt Number EAC1514354564, and sent you the receipt notice that describes how we will process your case. Please follow the instructions in the notice. If you do not receive your receipt notice by May 13, 2015, please call Customer Service at 1-800-375-5283. If you move, go to uscis.gov/addresschange to give us your new mailing address.

    Looking forward for your response.


  7. Rupesh Dasari

    Hi ,

    Is the H1B lottery selection process completed ? Because still we did not receive the documents from USCIS. When do I come to know I am selected or not?

    Rupesh Dasari

  8. Sridevi


    My attorney in the USA has applied for H1B and got the info 1mth ago that my fee cheque has been cleared, still i didnt receive the receipt number. Does this mean that ive got selected in the lottery and waiting for receipt# or have i not got selected? pls advice.


  9. Monee

    Hi., my husband applied for H1B he waited til last list which selected 7 numbers.. But he didnt..
    Is there any opportunity further to select from the rejected numbers…

    Moneesha gnanam

  10. jason

    My application has been selected in lottery and got the information a month back. But they have not shared any details of it apart from this information. So can you please tell me can I if my company doesn’t send me to US can I apply to US jobs on my own. They normally ask Visa ready person. But will they consider me?
    And till when this lottery be valid?

  11. STN

    This is what i heard from my consultant today 5/26.
    How to check whether consultant filled my H1 or not ?


    Unfortunately, it does not appear that your H1 was selected in lottery. We determine that by the fact that checks issued for filing fees are not cleared in bank, and so that would indicate at this late date that it did not make the selection process.

    Sorry to give a bad news.

  12. Lakshmanan Ganesan

    Does any one know that H1B lottery is completed and result has been shared to all those who got selected, or still there are some slots open


  13. Amit

    Hi All,
    I have few queries,written below.
    1.Does Random selection(lottery) happen in one slot?
    2.My employer said me that they are getting result in partial and still some hope to get the lottery selction which actually make me confused.

    Anyone pls help me out wheather should i keep still some hope or for this year nothing can happen.

  14. raw1

    Hi my sis got picked up in this lottery…but now she already have been selected in another job paying her double the package shes earning now. She is confused what to do? if she joins other company in 2-3 months from now will she loose her h1b ?

  15. sandy

    i got my WAC receipt no today…which means that i got selected from lottry? anybody please clear me in this.

  16. Balaji

    Last week my employer told that my application got picked up in lottery(cheque got en-cashed) . But now they told that there was some mistake in filing the H1B petition that the cheques got exchanged with another person whom they filed and the cheque which is encashed is not against for my application and now i have to wait for some more time to know my application in lottery result.

    Can some one let me know the process of lottery more in detail?

  17. DK

    Hi All, I have received EAC# which says my case is received on 13 Apr, and at the same time I checked another EAC# next to mine, which has different status “case is approved”. So now I have doubt whether my case is declined as they case is approved for next EAC # . Any one knows how this selection happens is it serially etc..

  18. rocky

    Hi Guys. I have heard from my Employer that my H1 is picked. I got a receipt number but i have an issue. I need to apply for H1 in regular quota rather than Advanced Degree as my University is a profit organization. My employer does not know how the lawyer applied it. I am trying to contact the lawyer but could not come in contact now. Does my receipt tell me under which quota my H1B has been picked. Any help will be appreciated.
    Thank you.

  19. ravi

    I have received WAC number last week, I am wondering what is the next step by USCIS and also in the above blog(How would the lottery work).-What step am I in (step 7??)? Thank you.

  20. Ravikumar

    I read a news about lottery for 2016 cap happened on 13th Apr 2015. Could somebody help me knowing, when is the possible date to know the status whether my case is selected for lottery or not?

  21. shiv

    USCIS website it says that yesterday the 13th of April they’ve done the random selection. How soon will be able to find out if your application was selected or not?

  22. Marian

    I have a question! I’m out of States and I’ve applied for the H1b 2016 lottery visa. If you go on the USCIS website it says that yesterday the 13th of April they’ve done the random selection. How soon will be able to find out if your application was selected or not? If you’ve applied through an attorney, are they the first ones to find out if the applicant was selected or not? Thank you!

  23. Lucky

    Guys, there is same chance of winning a lottery than getting selected on H1B selection. I recommend buy a lottery ticket every time you reply. YOU get SELECTED you might WIN lottery money sometime..LOL. So you have a job with money already!

  24. Chandu

    How do we know in first place that my application has been sent to USCIS. I believe EAC/WAC comes only after it gets picked in the lottery. But is there any way that one can come to know that an employer has actually filed a petition?

    1. balaji

      Unfortunately, there is no way we can know that! Trust your employer with all your heart!!
      He should be giving your WAC as soon as the lottery picks your application.

  25. srini

    last year , most of people H1B picked who has L1B to H1B applied , is it any separate quote for L1B people

  26. Zack

    I am completing my masters in April, If i apply for H1 can i stay back till i get a decision?
    P.S – I’m not eligible for OPT.

    1. John

      You cannot be here once your status expired. However, you can apply for H1B. You need to leave US while waiting. The best solution is to enroll new degree to keep your status.

  27. Monu

    Is there any process in which we lottery system decide that each of company should get some h1b visa?

    1. administrator

      Monu, it does not work on a company basis and there is no priority given for companies, it is just the regular vs masters quota for conducting lottery.

      1. monu

        Means if big companies are filing thousands of H1 application and a small company is filing few then big company has more opportunity to get H1 because they has more probability to get select.

  28. RIMPI

    What is the last date to file the petition from the Company??? Is it should be filed between oct-dec???

  29. Mohd Arif

    Sir I want to go US and I want to know about visa How can I Apply H1B visa.

    1. S. Raj

      Send me an email regarding US visa. I am the visa expert and filing H1B visa as well.

      1. Raj

        Hi Raj,

        I had a small query can an applicant file multiple H1 B applications from different companies .If so if the applications are getting picked up is there any risk during stamping? Please let me know

        1. balaji

          As long as multiple filing happen with different employers, there is no harm.

      2. Shahzad

        Hi Raj,

        I have B1 visa and need to apply for H1B visa. Can you help me to get work authorization?

      3. Shahzad

        Hi S Raj,

        I have B1 visa and need to apply for H1B visa. Can you help me to get work authorization?

  30. Arian

    Is there still any chance to be selected ? My lawyer says there’s no chance but they haven’t heard anything from the USCIS yet ! Please help ! I lost my hope 2 months ago but sometimes I hear that people say there’s still a chance !

  31. Vijay Gunasekaran


    Is there anything like “Waiting list” after the lottery process. i.e if an application is rejected after selected in the lottery, will they select any applications which will not select lottery for further processing. 65,000 is number of visas or number of applications?
    Please clarify me.

    Thanks & Regards

    1. RP/RQ/EAC

      sure.. your name is on that list.. come on dude ..its over for you

    2. gopss

      Hi friends.
      Could any one explain me after getting selected in lottery, what will be tha next process.

      1. administrator

        Let me write an article on the next steps so that it helps everyone.

  32. Bsu

    my employer told on may 9th that my application was selected in lottery but they have not received the receipt number yet.>Till now I didn’t get any update on receipt number or on rejection…is it really possible for employer to get notification on the lottery results alone without receipt number? Any information on similar case would really be helpful….

  33. RajPune

    What is next procedure once you get petition through Lottery System?

  34. dipanshumansingka

    if the lottery is randomly selected from the submitted forms then probability for first lottery selected is 65000 / (172500 – 20000) and for the last lottery selected is 1 / (172500 – 20000 – 64999)

  35. Bhargavi

    I havent recieved amy notification yet..anyone know how many appliction are processing daily?

  36. Jeevan

    can’t they do cap-gap from B1 to H1. Iif you are in OPT you can do cap gap for such cases right?

  37. Jenn

    Today April 16,2014. I have been chosen in the H1B visa lottery. USCIS will now be reviewing the merits of my application. In approximately two weeks, I will receive the final decision. I am a Canadian Citizen, My B2 expires in June 6th, 2014. I was told that I should leave before June 6th and remain in Canada until I receive my H-1B (October). My question is once I have received the final decision from USCIS in approx two weeks will I be able to start working right away? If not, when should I return to Canada and for how long should I stay there? When will I be able to work in USA?



    1. administrator

      Like Joon said, you can enter at most 10 days prior to H-1 start date (which is Oct 1). Also, you will have to return after getting your H-1 visa stamped and need to leave before your current I-94 expiration date. Do not stay too long on B-1 or you may be asked during interview about your US trip’s long stay.

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