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

In Apply H1B Visa by Kumar213 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, as we are 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 “computer-generated random selection processes”  by USCIS in 2007 for FY 2008…as time progressed and people have started to embrace colloquial word called “Lottery” for the same…You can see that USCIS have embraced the same and say “computer-generated process, also known as the lottery“, in recent years, including this year’s, press release as it is easily understood and many can relate to it.

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

Historically, we had H1B visa lottery for FY 2008, FY 2009, and recently in last few years, including last year. USCIS received about 233,000 applications for H1B FY 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 aka lottery 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 concept of random selection would work as we have more petitions than the required for actual cap count and we have a lottery situation for  H1B visa 2017  quota.  The process has been pretty much similar since its inception by USCIS  since 2007.

  • 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 Letters – NOT Picked in Lottery 

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

Are you looking for H1B FY 2017 Lottery Predictions ?
We have written a detail analysis and our predictions, you can check out H1B Visa 2017 Lottery Predictions, USCIS Data Trends

Did I miss anything ? Any comments to add ? Questions ?

Related Articles

Comments ( 213 )

  1. H1b

    I m checking status against my LCA on myvisajobs.com
    and its showing that LCA is certified, what does this means?
    IS it picked in the lottery? or not?
    how do i know if it is picked or not? can i track anywhere with help of LCA number
    please guide

    1. administrator


      All LCAs get certified. So looking up LCA doesn’t give any information about selection/rejection in lottery.

  2. Jayasree S

    My employer did my H1B FY 2017 ,but i do not have any update whether my petition has been picked in the random selection process or not. When I contacted him, he said he has no update and is waiting for more receipts. Does that mean my petition has been picked up and is waiting for the EAC #. I believe if at all my petition is not picked up in the lottery, they should have an update by now. Am I right ?

    Can someone please let me know .

    1. administrator

      Jayasree S,

      If selected, employer will receive the receipt number. It is quite possible that they still don’t know about your results. People who didn’t make through lottery are usually notified in June-July (based on historical data).

  3. Sathvika

    I applied for 3 H1b s this year from different employers as this is the last chance for me.I came to know that one of them is picked in the lottery so ,I dont have any update about the rest 2 . So,now can I drop the remaining 2 applications without knowing their status.What is the process ..please let me know

  4. Bala



  5. VBC


  6. Rikesh

    My employer did premium application and I just received my H1-B Receipt Number (WAC#). Does this mean my petition got selected in lottery? If yes, when do I expect if my application for H1-B got selected or rejected?

    1. Shreyas

      That’s right. Your application got picked in the lottery.

      I remember asking this to my attorney – ‘Thanks for the note. Pardon my ignorance but does this mean, my application was chosen out of the 65k lot to process the H1-B for this year?’

      Response from the attorney – You are correct. The receipt of this notice confirms that H-1B petition on your behalf was chosen in the lottery to be processed. It can take 2-4 months for the case to be processed by the USCIS. You do not need to expect additional notices and no other action is required on your part. Once we receive an update from the USCIS regarding your case we will inform you immediately.

      Hope this helps

  7. casmopoly

    not sure why the post has been deleted

    I got an update from law firm immigrationgirl
    Much to my surprise, we have received our first 40 email notifications from the Vermont Service Center for H-1B petitions filed in the lottery. These were filed in the Advanced Degree (masters cap). Received date on the email is April 11th. The first emails came in at 7:55 pm last night.

    I cannot find any announcement form USCIS that the lottery was conducted or how many petitions were filed. This is out of the ordinary.

    We have also received our first notification from California Service Center at 11:13 this morning!

Leave a Comment

Comments Policy :
  • Comments are to drive conversation, add your thoughts, experiences, ask questions!
  • Do NOT write hate speech, swear words, or get into fight. Maintain etiquette
  • Enter your Name, valid Email, URL(optional - Facebook, LinkedIn profile URLs).
  • Your email will NOT be published. Do NOT post any phone numbers, email-ids
  • Do NOT post any links from other websites, unless official sites, University websites.
  • By submitting your comment, you agree to Term and Conditions of our website.