As I look back, it just amazes me that this is the sixth year of doing the H1B lottery predictions starting with H1B FY 2011 Predictions. Time just flies! So far, all these years our predictions have been very accurate and hope to continue the trend this year too J. We will look at some historical data of the past, H1B cap reach dates, work visas situation, and various macro-economic factors and do our analysis for H1B Visa 2016 lottery predictions.
Updated : H1B FY 2016 had lottery as we predicted below with about 233,000 Petitions filed towards that. If you are looking for FY 2017 related predictions, you should read article H1B Visa 2017 Lottery Predictions, News and Dates
Analysis of USCIS Historic Data – H1B Cap reach dates from FY 2004 to 2015
The below graphs illustrates the H1B cap reach dates from early 2004 all the way until H1B FY 2015 quota. As highlighted in the graph, it is very clear that the US economy primarily drives the demand for H1B visa highly skilled technical workers. Last couple of years were crazy with quite a bit of H1-B petitions filed. As we did in our H1B Visa 2015 predictions, USCIS received about 172,500 petitions. We will look at the US economy and other factors in detail below, but as per the graph trend below, it is very likely that we will have a lottery for FY 2016.
H1B Visa 2016 Lottery Prediction Analysis by various Factors
Every year there are various factors that impact the H1B Visa petitions filings, it ranges from US economy to USCIS immigration policies changes, including students influx volume into USA…Let’s look at each of them. For clarity sake, will divide them into two categories…one that increases the H1B Visas demand and other that will pull it down.
Factors that can INCREASE Number of H1B Visa Applications:
Some of the factors below are macro-economic in nature, some are very specific tied to past events and situations.
- US Economy – GDP Growth: If you look at the GDP growth rate graph below, it is pretty clear that the US economy is doing absolutely fine, except a small hiccup in early 2014. As per the WSJ US GDP forecast, the growth in 2015 looks solid at 3% and better than 2014’s growth of 2.6%. This growth is primarily driven by the long lasting lower oil prices. What it means is for US businesses is that they will invest more and hire more people for jobs, which directly increases the demand for highly skilled labor, leading to more H1B visas sponsorship.
- Unemployment rate in USA : The unemployment rate in US has been constantly falling and the below graph clearly illustrates the trend. Currently, it is about 5.5% compared to 10% in 2009. This is a very positive sign for H1B visa holders because, there are less people in US who are jobless and it directly implies that the highly skilled labor demand would be more and companies would need to do H1B sponsorships to cater to the demand.
- Missed H1B FY 2015 Lottery Applicants: Only 85,000 applications were picked last year from the lottery of 172,500 H1B 2015 applications received by USCIS. So, about 87,500 applications were not picked. If not, all of them at least good half to one third of them could potentially apply for H1B Visa this year.
- Internationals students on F1 visa in USA – Graduating, Expiring OPTs, 17 month OPT extensions: According to the IIE Report, the international students grew by about 8.1% in 2013-14. Many of these new students may not apply, but the students from prior years of 2012, 2013 who would graduate this year or with expiring OPT could potentially apply for this year H1B visa. Also, the key thing is STEM graduates with 17 month OPT who would have graduated almost 2 years ago would very likely apply for H1B, if they have not done yet. All of these adds a lot of demand for H1B visa applications.
Factors that can DECREASE the Number of H1B Visa Applications:
- H4 Visa EAD rule: As many of you know, H4 Visa EAD rule was passed and will be effective from May 26, 2015. This rule essentially enables certain H4 Visa holder with an approved I-140 or H1B extended beyond 6 years under AC21, apply for EAD. The impact of this rule is significant as about 179,600 H4 visa holders are eligible for EAD with this rule. Many of those H4 visa holders, who probably planned to apply for this year quota, would NOT apply for H1B 2016. The simple reason is that EAD gives them more options to work and there is no reason to go through lottery, when they can get a work permit as a dependent on H4.
- H1B Rules Tightened, Fees, RFEs : Over the last few years, the H1B rules are more strict with Neufeld H1B visa memo introduced in Jan 2010 and H1B visa filing fee was raised by $2000 during recession, which was in effect until September 30, 2014…still the USCIS H1B fees section shows this fees listed, not sure what’s the status on this fee. Also, there have been good number of H1B RFEs and Rejections in the last few years. Some large companies like Infosys have been hit with immigration breaches in the past and many IT consulting companies have been in trouble with these rules…All of these factors will NOT encourage employers to file for H1B visa petition, unless there is a real need.
Now, What the judgment on Analysis? What is the Lottery Prediction?
Well, the factors that influence the increase in the H1B Applications weigh much more than the ones that can decrease them…so, there will be H1B Lottery for FY 2016 quota. The next question is how many petitions will be filed with USCIS? Despite the H4 visa EAD rule, I strongly believe that the demand is historically high and there are many people who are in need of H1B visa. As far as the numbers go, based on above factors, we expect that USCIS can receive anywhere between 170,000 to 200,000 H1B petitions for fiscal year of 2016.
Also, below are the couple of questions everyone would be thinking about…
When is the H1B Visa 2016 Lottery Date?
USCIS will accept H1B petitions for the FY 2016 during the first 5 business days starting from April 1st, which would be until close of business day of April 7th . Last year, the H1B Lottery was conducted on April 10th, 2014. We expect similar dates this year either it could be April 10th or the week of April 13th, depending on the number of petitions received as USCIS has to deal with initial paperwork for conducting lottery.
When can you expect H1B Visa 2016 lottery results?
This is a very tricky question, it depends on various factors and there is no time limit set as such for this, unless you filed under premium processing. Usually, many of the selected petitions in lottery would receive the receipt numbers starting with premium processing cases and then regular processing cases. They can start coming in from April 13th all the way for couple of months or more depending on the work load of USCIS. Also, last year, the H1B applications not selected in Lottery were rejected and returned to employers/attorney as late as end of June 2014, so it can be quite frustrating to wait….All in all, there is going to be quite a bit of wait folks and be ready for it…!
What is your guess for the H1B Visa 2016 Lottery prediction?
Any other factors that can influence the FY 2016 applications volume ?
Any other thoughts to share ?
Credits : for US GDP and Unemployment Graphs : http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/