H1B Visa 2019 Predictions Numbers

H1B Visa 2019 Lottery Predictions – Analysis, Graphs, New Rules Impact

In H1B Visa by KumarUpdated : 65 Comments

We have had H1B lottery for the past 5 consecutive years now…in the past, we used to predict, if there would be lottery or not…but, now, it is not about either we will have lottery or not, it is about how many H1B petitions will be filed in this year H1B Visa 2019 quota, that’s the question. Since Trump Administration has taken office, many new rules and executive orders have come into effect and these can have a tremendous impact on the overall filings, we will look at all of these aspects, including history, impact of new rules and look at the projections for this year’s H1B lottery.

H1B 2019 Season is over, H1B 2020 season starts on April 1st, 2019 : Check out H1B Visa 2020 Lottery Predictions 

We will look at the below factors that have major impact on the H1B filings.

  • H1B Cap reach dates history and trends from past data
  • US Economy, Unemployment Rate
  • Trump Administration – New Immigration Rules/ Executive Orders
    • Trump’s Buy American, Hire American Executive Order
    • New USCIS memo for Third Party worksite H1B petitions
    • Level-1 Specialty Occupation, H1B Abuse Report, Site Visits
    • H4 EAD Removal Regulation
    • Fall 2017 Regulatory Agenda – H1B Program, H4, OPT changes.
    • Other Proposed H1B Visa Bills, High H1B Fees
  • F1 Visa Status Holders– Graduating Students, OPT Holders
  • Previous years prospective H1B seeks not picked in Lottery

H1B Visa Cap reach dates History and Trends from past data  : If we look at the historical data (plotted in below graph), it is quite obvious that we could  very likely have a lottery situation. We had lottery for H1B visa filings for the last 5 consecutive years. Most recently, for FY 2018 season, we had about 199,000 H1B petitions filed. For the previous years, FY 2017, we had 236,000 ; FY 2016 had 233,000 petitions. You can check out the full history of H1B cap reach dates from 1999 – 2018 .  Looking at the graph and data we can tell that we will have lottery. We will look at more details on the numbers later in the article.H1B Visa 2019 Lottery Predictions - Data Trend - Analysis
US Economy, Unemployment Rate : Despite many speculations, before Trump took office, by many that US economy might be in trouble with his “America First” approach, it turns out that US economy has no impact since he took office and doing far better than before. The Stock market is doing great, US unemployment rate is at a 17-year historic low of 4.1% in February 2018 (see below graph). It was 4.7% last year at this time, you can see that it has declined further. GDP growth was at 2.6% for year 2017, which is much better than the previous year. All of these economy indicators tell that there will be continued demand for skilled workers, which adds up to demand for more H1B workers for FY 2019 season.US Unemployment Rate vs GDP Growth Rate H1B impact

Trump Administration – New Immigration Rules/ Executive Orders : Since Trump Administration took office, there were many changes done from immigration standpoint that have a significant impact on the H1B visa program. USCIS has rolled out many policies and many bills are in progress.

Let’s look at some of the major ones.

  • Trump’s Buy American, Hire American Executive Order : After President Trump took office, they passed “Buy American, Hire American Executive Order”, that proposed measures to protect US workers and make H1B program policies more strict and make sure they do not displace American Workers. This executive order has spawned many changes in 2017 and 2018, including the third-party worksite new memo. This has a big impact on H1B program and discourages employers from filing foreign workers easily.
  • New USCIS memo for Third Party worksite H1B petitions : On Feb 22nd, USCIS published a new policy memo outlining additional requirements for Third Party worksite H1B petitions, requiring employers to share details on contracts, detailed itineraries for such petitions. This is a big concern for many MNCs and IT body shop companies that operate in EVC model. This will have a significant impact on the number of H1B filings. It will increase more RFEs as well and this could have a negative effect and discourage employers to file H1B petitions due to complexity in getting these documents from clients.
  • Level-1 Specialty Occupation, H1B Abuse Report, Site Visits : USCIS announced last year on the day of accepting H1Bs for FY 2018, they would not consider Computer Programmer, especially Level 1 not specialty occupation and also more site visits to verify H1B practices and additional initiative to report H1B fraud via email. All of these changes had a significant impact on FY 2018 petitions that and ended up in more RFEs than ever before. Check RFE Approval Rates from 2007 to 2017.
  • Fall 2017 Regulatory Agenda – H1B Program, H4, OPT changes : There are many items in Fall 2017 regulatory agenda that impact H1B program that prevent fraud and strengthen the program. These policy changes are not going to help the MNC and IT outsourcing companies and can have bad impact. While most are not complete, but these give guidance on what to expect in future.
  • H4 EAD Removal Regulation : While there was a lawsuit in court by ‘Save Jobs USA’ on H4 EAD rule for sometime, in December 2017 USCIS published an agenda item to remove H4 EAD rule for certain spouses, this was further updated by USCIS that they need more time before they publish rule draft to remove H4 EAD by June 2018. This is a huge deal for all current H4 EAD holders working. This removal of H4 EAD will encourage the current H4 EAD holders to think of H1B and maybe file H1Bs in FY 2019 quota.
  • Other Proposed H1B Visa Bills, High H1B Fees : There are many other H1B Visa bills like the 130K wage, Remove H1B lottery and many that are in house and senate at various stages to strengthen the H1B program. You can check H1B Visa Bills Tracker. All of these do not encourage filing of H1Bs as there are more checks in place and limit the abuse. Also, the H1B Visa Petition Filing Fee is very high for the IT consulting companies, that discourages filing of H1Bs.

F1 Visa Status Holders– Graduating Students, OPT Holders : The number of international students applying for H1B in US after their graduation or towards their end of OPT is probably one of the biggest factors that accounts for H1B numbers. As per IIE Open Doors Report, you can see from below graph that, there was an increase of 19% of F1 students on OPT in 2016-2017 academic year. With New OPT rules, students from STEM category can potentially work for 12+24 = 36 months or 3 years on OPT.  As per stats below, you can see there are anywhere around 120,000 students from 2014/15 who will lose the option to work on OPT and need H1B. These students will very likely apply, of course, some would have already applied previous years, but overall, there are at least 75,000 students on OPT who would look for H1B.  Besides OPT, many graduating students who are from the pool of 300,000 students under graduate degree category may potentially apply.  Overall, the stats tell that there are many F1 students who will potentially apply for FY 2019 category to work in US.US F1 Students OPT stats for H1B Visa

Previous years prospective H1B seeks not picked in Lottery: This is also a major factor that plays a big role in H1B cap filings. We had lottery for the last 5 consecutive years and in total there were about 425,000 (85,000*5) H1Bs available, but we had about 964,500 petitions (124,000+172,500+233,000+236,000+199,000) filed. Just the difference is about 539,500. Think of it, even if 10% of these apply, it would make up about 54,000 petitions. The odds of at least 10% of them applying is very high.

Now, that we have looked at most of the factors, let’s review our take and predictions.

H1B Lottery Predictions for FY 2019 quota – How many petitions ? 
If we summarize the above factors influence in one statement as More H1Bs or Less H1Bs, it looks like below.

  • H1B Cap reach dates trends from past data –  Will have Lottery
  • US Economy, Unemployment Rate – Very good – More H1Bs Demand
  • Trump Administration – New Immigration Rules/ Executive Orders
    • Trump’s Buy American, Hire American Executive Order –  Less H1Bs
    • New USCIS memo for Third Party worksite H1B petitions –  Less H1Bs
    • Level-1 Specialty Occupation, H1B Abuse Report, Site Visits –  Less H1Bs
    • Fall 2017 Regulatory Agenda – H1B Program, H4, OPT changes –  Less H1Bs
    • H4 EAD Removal Regulation – More H1Bs
    • Other Proposed H1B Visa Bills, High H1B Fees –  Less H1Bs
  • F1 Visa Status Holders– Graduating Students, OPT Holders –  More H1Bs
  • Previous years prospective H1B seeks not picked in Lottery –  More H1Bs

In general, there are many policies in place by Trump Administration and USCIS under the ‘Buy American, Hire American Policy’ that could limit the H1B filings for FY 2019 as the rules are stricter and more burden for the employers to put all the documentation for the same. On the other hand, the US economy is great and a large number of F1 students on OPT and Graduating STEM students and H4 EAD holders are really looking to apply for H1B visa to either work or continue to work in US. Besides, many MNCs and IT Outsourcing companies, including the big employers like Microsoft, Google, Facebook in US have continued demand for more H1B visa holders.  While some of these factors balance out, looking ahead we foresee that there will be more stringent rules coming in for the H1B program and we believe that many of the organizations would take the chance and apply now for H1B rather than later. With the new rules and changes, while the numbers could be slightly less than last year, we do not expect a big drop in filings. We anticipate anywhere from 170,000 to 190,000 H1B petitions for FY 2019 quota.

What do you think ? What are your thoughts on the H1B  lottery numbers ?


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Comments ( 65 )

  1. Slack

    The slack link for H1b group is


  2. BePositive

    I don’t know how many of you will be interested made a Telegram chat group:


    Join if interested and keep posting the update and share your stress

    1. trying_hard

      This is actually a channel . You can only broadcast a message to the audience here but participants cant post the update and share the stress.

  3. jai

    USCIS received 190,098 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 2, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption.

  4. BePositive

    Hi Kumar,

    Based on this: https://redbus2us.com/trackers/h1b-visa-tracker/?page=1 do you have any data like how many people updated h1b tacker last year at this point of time ?
    May be that can help to guess to the number of application this year.

    1. administrator

      Well, it is hard to get that stat as we do not store every update date…At least in the tracker, it seems less to me this year.

      1. BePositive

        Thanks Kumar for the reply.
        Do you happen to remember the approximate number from top of your head?
        If yes then share it else you can ignore my comment.
        Thanks in advance.

  5. BePositive

    Hi Kumar,

    Based on this:https://redbus2us.com/trackers/h1b-visa-tracker/?page=1 do you have any data like how many people updated h1b tacker last year at this point of time ?
    May be that can help to guess to the number of application this year.

  6. Harish Ravi

    I think the data one has to look at is the LCA postings. But here is the most important thing. In 2015 and 2016 Infosys, TCS and Cognizant applied for everyone and made sure that they get a big pie in the lottery.Intrestingly they applied for level 1 wages. Now that there is RFE’s they are not going to apply with the same velocity. One has to consider last year lots of pettitions picked up in lottery were denied. Hence my number is less than 100,000.Shocking as such but hey it’s a prediction

    1. H1b Hopeless

      I guess this time there are very rare chances that H1b petitions will reach to its maximum applications very soon. I predict USCIS will announce by May end that they have reached maximum number of applications. Also I wont be more than 100K.
      Spoke with many friends in INfy,Cogni,TCS but all are saying their companies are filling in controlled manner. INfy not filling any single application with Wage level-1 , and not more than 3000 with higher wage level which is major setback mood for bigger consultancies.
      This blog should have around 5000_ comments by now and it is still quiet which shows there are very few new people interested in knowing about this. Wait & Watch

  7. Didier

    Last Year I published my prediction here – 200K – and it was actually 199K. Based on my own analysis and experience, for this year I predict 180K.

    Wait and see…

    1. Drogba

      You the man! Unbelievable!

      DIDIER’s Margin of error = 0.5%

      Companies are spending so much $$ on predictive analytics, forecasting and data science. They should just all call you.

  8. Vishi

    Approved H1B petitions with average salaries. Interesting data as of 25 Oct 2017:


    1. H1bAspirant

      From the sheet, it looks like indian IT companies got almost 60% of visas followed by US product companies like google, amazon etc. I don’t see many consulting firms.

      1. ms_guy

        Most consultancy will collect money and won’t file and if they have filed at least one petition would be selected or in approved category

  9. Believe me

    Already all Indian IT and US IT companies have reduced the filing for this year as everyone is struggling to get the client letters, Companies are cautious and making sure that they get the client letter before filing for the nomination otherwsie they will end up with RFE and loosing dollars , I read some where that Infosys is going ahead with only 1000 filing this year for 2019(source on Quora)……Most of the worry that i have seen from the comments of Masters guys was there main worry has always ramined the Indian IT companies ( TCS, Infosys etc), Now they can chill that Indian IT companies have reduced the filing to 1/5th of what they used to do earlier but i am sure they are now more worried with the new memo coming in place of providing the additional information from the client and i am sure those who has gone on dad’s money to some unknown universities and working with the boddy shoppers will end up either in RFE or get fooled by the body shoppers (check out so many body shoppers has already posted for h1b filing by taking money)……this year these boddy shoppers wants to go ahead with the experienced IT guys from India rather than inexperienced Masters guys (what is the use of doing masters if you have to work in IT services only.)…..My take for this year is around 1.2k applications.

    1. Maybe

      Don’t forget latest uncertainty with “Day-1 CPT status”. Majority of students enrolled in such programs have first masters in CS/CE/IT/MIS related fields and work in consulting. That means employer will have to address RFEs for client letters AND for legality of F1 status. . definitely not a rosy picture for many AD applicants.

  10. CandleInAir

    Interesting Analysis!

    Few points:

    1. H4 EAD issue might cause few (around 10%) to apply for h1b through consultancies but again with the new memo not many consultancies are willing to file h1b if you cannot provide a client letter.
    I assume most of these might register for Masters and we can expect more h4 –> h1s during FY2020 H1 lottery!!

    2. Many Consultancies are not willing to file inhouse projects or 3rd party if you cannot provide a client letter. So multiple applications might decrease. But, there are few whose RFE is still not cleared from last year or those whose h1b got rejected that would be applying this year! ‘Neutral’

    3. Due to lot of uncertainty on RFEs, h1b process, etc, Indian consultancies like Cognizant, TCS, HCL, Infosys might increase their h1b applications as they know that it will be more stringent next year. So this can increase the applications. (So far last year just these 4 consultancies have filed around 60k applications. Worst part is : They file bulk applications for just one on-site positions which increases their odds of getting the h1b picked)

    4. Companies are not willing to hire OPT students and this might continue for next 3 years until the merit based system is implemented. So if not immediately, we can expect decline in h1b applications in the coming years.

    5. We can expect delays in h1b result due to backlog applications from last year. So, all those who have thier last chjance for h1b this year might be in the same situation next year after a 2nd masters.

    My analysis: While there are certain factors (Strict rules, new memo, etc) that would reduce the h1b applications, there are counter factors that might increase the applications too because of the uncertainty about getting h1b visas in future.

    So, I guess we can expect around 165K + applications for sure. While the number might not decrease this year, we can expect the h1b applications to decline from 2020 cap season.

    I believe, they should give priority to masters students first and then to candidates coming from India. We spent so many $ to get an education here and it is not fair that a lottery decides our fate.

    1. BePositive

      Great analysis!!!
      Regarding point:
      1. People on H4 EAD are not many and its hard to get H1b sponsor, many of them are working only because they have H4 EAD. I am not sure if employer will agree to file their H1. If they have found sponsor in first place why would they applied for H4 EAD?? And 10% of them??? That means 16.5k (10 % of 165k) looks very difficult to me.

      2. Trust me consultancies are just trying to save themselves. They are not filling H1 for masters students putting conditions like stay with us for 1.5 years or so but its nothing but a false promise. And keep in mind consultancy pay very less in initial couple of months and candidate pay H1b fee out of their pocket. If they got RFE and rejected H1B they will think twice before applying.
      BTW if you have your h1b rejected as per my understanding you will not come back to f1 and you will not have any valid status and you have to leave USA.
      This will not be ‘Neutral’ in my opinion it will cause a significant decrease in number of application.

      3. Last year because Trump administration started pointing fingers at Indian companies like TCS, Wipro etc…. the number was down just because of that. Now, they have median salary/computer programmer plus company have to explain why paying so less if the work candidate is doing a high skilled work. I think this will further decrease the number of application but not by much.

      5. This number would definitely be negligible.

      I think masters student who are thinking of applying through consultancy will have a hard time this year. Definitely RFE is waiting for them and if their application will get rejected they might have to leave USA. So, a smart candidate will either find a FT or wait until his last year so that he can recover as much money he can.

      I still believe number will not be more than 130k.

      1. Maybe

        I think, it will also depend on how many assignments big companies have and how how many valid H1bs they have to cover these assignments. With new third party memo and client documentation requirements, would it be easier to amend existing H1b than getting approvals for new ones?? I am not sure! Infosys, TCS, CTS, Wipro, TechM, Accenture, Deloitte, IBM and HCL filed 234000 lca combined in 2014/15/16. assuming 2017 keeps that number unchanged, it would be much profitable to utilize these visas first than spending money on new visas when it is guaranteed to cost much more this year. Just a thought!

    2. I like it!!!!!!!!!!!

      But I like your below point:

      3. Due to lot of uncertainty on RFEs, h1b process, etc, “Indian consultancies” like Cognizant, TCS, HCL, Infosys …………….


  11. SKM

    Premium processing suspended. Only for cap subject petitions though.

  12. John

    Hi guys, a quick question.

    What is the absolute latest that my company can apply for the visa this season?

    I understand it usually takes about 7 days to get LCA and a few more days after that.

    1. Ram

      This year cap petition will be accepted by USCIS starting from April 2, 2018. It would be better if your petition is received by April 2, 2018. They will stop accepting the cap petitions in few days(Depends on the number of petitions that is received by USCIS) after April 2.

      1. Ram

        Ideally you have to target to apply on April 2. Depending on this if you back track, your count down for application has already begun.

  13. BePositive

    1. number of master students
    a) Should be lesser than the previous year(number of students are declining due to stricter rule).
    b) Student going through consultancy, especially the fake one will drastically decline(due to new stringent rules by USCIS for consultancy)
    c) Multiple filling will decline(due to new stringent rules by USCIS for consultancy)
    d) Many companies stop sponsoring masters students h1b specially banking sector

    2. H4 EAD will cause little increase in h1b application
    3. Non-masters will surely lesser than last year.
    4. The most powerful one number of RFEs, this will definitely cause lesser applicant be it masters or non masters

    Leftover applicant from :
    2016 : 148k (233k-85k = 148k)
    But, number of applicant in 2017 was 50k more and none of the 4 factors were there for masters student.
    For 2018 :
    left over applicant from 2017 114k, so my guess is number applicant for 2018 would be
    125k(+/- 10 %).

        1. BePositive

          Marked 🙂
          Can you explain why it would be 179k not less not more?
          I seriously doubt that, many consultancies are not even filling h1b for masters students, this further strengthen my estimate of 125k(+/- 10k)

  14. SJ

    What happen to those CAP slots (out of 65K per year) which got selected in Lottery but their petitions got rejected? Do they apply afresh as Cap exempt or those slot goes back to candidates who have applied in that current year?

    1. editor

      Once they are rejected in cap subject H1B, then they have to re apply in next year cap subject slot.
      Once rejected, the slot is simply wasted. Its not added in next year slot.

    2. administrator

      USCIS mentioned in the past that they pick enough petitions considering the rejection rates, so technically they pick more than 85K accounting for the rejections rate and count.

  15. Prem

    Most of the below bucket will be thru consultancies/body shops and denials will be for sure even if they get thru lottery. People really need to go thru the sufferings of those picked in 2018 lottery applying thru consultancies.. look at the H1B 2018 page in this same site.. people are crying out even now.. even with approved petition, they are screwed in stamping.

    I too doubt the 170-190k number. why waste 4-6k thru consultancies when you know denial is for sure. with the new memo, employer-vendor-client model, Day 1 CPT is screwed and all these category fall under that.

    H4 EAD Removal Regulation – More H1Bs
    F1 Visa Status Holders– Graduating Students, OPT Holders – More H1Bs
    Previous years prospective H1B seeks not picked in Lottery – More H1Bs

      1. VK

        The count should be well below the CAP number, but the only reason I see the count reaching 150, 170, 190…..is because everyone has money to pay the consultancies. If not even a single person pays the consultancies, H1 would go smooth until Oct without lottery.
        It’s boom time for consultancies, most of them taking money from 10 persons & applying for the 11th person, sharing one FedEx receipt with all just to show to be genuine. If the current administration can stop this $$ business everything will be in place.

        1. ms_guy

          yeah correct i heard few consultancy collected money from 200 people and people who are in last attempt esp MS guys paying them then HYD based guys.

    1. ms_guy

      2015 had all time intake for F1. So for next two years we can see demand and there will be sudden drop from FY2021 if H1 is still in place . Also we could see merit based visa system from 2021.

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