Big question, “Will there be H1B Visa 2015 Lottery?”
H1B 2015 Season is over. Check out H1B Visa 2016 Lottery Predictions
Every year, since 2010, around the H1B season start time, I review all the past USCIS data, look at current trends, macro-economic factors and provide lottery predictions for H1B Visa filings for that fiscal year. It is hard to believe that I have been doing H1B predictions for the past 4 years and the predictions done have been very consistent with the actual results. This article will focus on H1B Visa 2015 Lottery Predictions based on real data!
Before we dive in to predictions, as a baseline, let’s look at the past USCIS data and US macro economics data.
USCIS H1B Visa Cap reach Dates by Year and US Economy Performance
As someone said “a picture is worth thousand words”, below is the graphical illustration of USCIS data plotted with the cap reach dates by year since 2000. If you look closely, as mentioned in the illustration, the H1B Visa cap reach dates is very much in-line with the performance of the US economy. If there were signs of recession, the H1B cap reach dates extends as far as October or even sometimes even to January as the case with FY 2011. As the US economy recovers from recession, the demand for H1B Visa workers increases as well, which is obvious by the H1B Cap reach dates moving close to April, as you can see for FY 2012 and 2013. Ultimately the H1B filing trend leads to a lottery as the demand exceeds the H1B cap numbers, which you can see for FY 2009, 2013.
H1B Visa 2015 Lottery Prediction Analysis
There are many factors that influence the H1B Workers demand, below are some of them that influence the H1B lottery possibility for FY 2015.
- Performance of US economy : US economy is doing fairly well, if you look at the below GDP growth rate, it looks good. It grew at 3.2% in Q4 of 2013. IMF raised GDP growth forecast of US to 2.8% for 2014, which is a good sign considering the original forecast. This is a positive sign for companies to forecast their growth and hire more people. It is good for H1B visa workers demand.
- Unemployment Rate in US : The unemployment rate is falling consistently as you can see in the below trend and currently stands at 6.6%. It means that there is more demand for workforce in USA and it implies that more demand for H1B workers as well.
- H1B Visa Applicants Not Selected in FY 2014 Lottery : USCIS received about 124,000 petitions for a total of 85,000 visas last year for FY 2014. You can expect a good amount of the 39,000 applicants, who were not selected in H1B 2014 lottery, to apply for this FY 2015 quota. This creates more supply of the H1B Visa petitioners for this year filing.
- Increased International Students: As you can see in below graph based on Institute of International Education Student Data , the International students enrolled in US schools increased consistently since 2009-10 academic year. There are much more number of students, who would potentially apply for H1B Visa to work in America.
- 17 month OPT extension Students: Apart from the regular Masters completed students, the STEM category students, who did not apply for H1B visa last year with 17 month OPT extension could also apply for H1B visa for this FY 2015 quota.
- H1B Rules Tightened, More RFEs, Fees Increased : Over the period of last three years, H1B rules are more stringent with Neufeld H1B visa memo introduced in Jan 2010 and H1B visa filing fee was raised by $2000 during recession, which is in effect until September 2014. Also, there have been good number of H1B RFEs and Rejections in the last few years for the applications that were not compliant with process. With the Infosys Visa Fraud and settlement of $34 Million late last year, USCIS will have more scrutiny on H1Bs filed by big MNCs. All of these discourage employees to file H1B Visa petitions, unless there is a compelling need for an employer to seek high skilled temporary worker on H1B visa.
- H1B Visa cap and Immigration Reform : There has been some discussion on Immigration reform and raising H1B cap to 110,000 for regular quota and masters quota to 25,000, but nothing has moved yet and we may have to live with existing cap. This does not help the increase in H1B Visa workers demand and only helps for lottery.
Now, the million dollar question
“Will there be H1B Lottery for 2015 Quota ? What is the Prediction ?”
Based on above data, despite the tightening of H1B Visa rules, with US economy doing fairly well, US unemployment rate decreasing , increase in international students seeking jobs both with masters and OPTs, and the unlucky applicants who were picked in H1B lottery last year, we will have Lottery for H1B Visa FY 2015 Quota. We could expect about 150K to 180 K petitions for this fiscal year. If you have not planned yet, check out the H1B Visa 2015 Plan and Steps, including article on How to find H1B Sponsors for FY 2015.
What is your speculation? Will we have H1B lottery for this year ?
How many petitions can we expect ?
Credits : for US GDP and Unemployment Graphs : http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/