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

What is H1B Visa Lottery Process – What has USCIS done in the past

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 2015  ?
  • 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 2016 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. USCIS received approximately about 163,000 petitions for a 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 2016 Lottery Process work?

Let me elaborate more on how the lottery would work, if we were to get one for H1B visa 2016 quota.

  • 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 2016.
  • 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.
  • 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 

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

Are you looking for H1B FY 2015 Lottery Predictions ?
Check out H1B Visa 2015 Lottery Predictions, USCIS Data Trends

Did I miss anything ? Any comments to add ?

135 comments… add one

  • Zack Mar 17, 2015 Reply

    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.

  • Monu Feb 26, 2015 Reply

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

    • Kumar Mar 13, 2015 Reply

      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.

      • monu Mar 14, 2015 Reply

        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.

  • RIMPI Dec 25, 2014 Reply

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

  • Mohd Arif Dec 4, 2014 Reply

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

    • S. Raj Jan 3, 2015 Reply

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

      • Raj Jan 18, 2015 Reply

        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

  • Arian Jul 12, 2014 Reply

    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 !

  • Vijay Gunasekaran Jul 7, 2014 Reply


    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

    • RP/RQ/EAC Jul 7, 2014 Reply

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

  • Bsu Jun 5, 2014 Reply

    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….

    • Ali Jun 5, 2014 Reply

      If they know you got selected then they must have the receipt.

  • H1B regular May 20, 2014 Reply

    Hi Friends,

    Any updates?

  • Modi Rocks May 16, 2014 Reply

    Ab Ki baar .. Modi Sarkaar

  • james May 7, 2014 Reply

    What date did/will the lottery take place this year?

  • RajPune May 4, 2014 Reply

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

  • 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)

  • Bhargavi Apr 30, 2014 Reply

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

  • Jeevan Apr 28, 2014 Reply

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

  • Jenn Apr 16, 2014 Reply

    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?



    • Joon Apr 16, 2014 Reply

      You can enter US from 22nd of September 2014.

    • Saurabh Apr 16, 2014 Reply

      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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