Over the past decade, the demand for H1B Visas has skyrocketed and it keeps getting more every year, despite the tighter regulations and policies of Trump Administration. We had H1B Lottery for the past 7 consecutive years, and it is going to be no different this year. Many factors influence the number of petitions filed by H1B employers and this year we have New Registration System in place as well…Many are wondering, if that will have any impact and what would the H1B predictions numbers look like for the upcoming fiscal year…In this article, we will look all the factors that can influence H1B lottery for the upcoming H1B visa 2021 season and come up with our predictions. We will also cover overall timelines, dates for results for this fiscal year at the end.
We believe that the demand for H1B visas for this upcoming season is influenced by below factors.
- H1B Visa petitions filing Trends, Historical Data
- US Economy Growth, Unemployment Rate
- F1 Students in US – New Graduates, OPT, STEM OPT Holders
- H4 visa Holders, H4 EAD Rule Removal Concerns
- New H1B Registration Process, $10 Fee
- Trump Administration Rules – H1B RFE, Denials Trends
- Previous H1B Applicants not picked in Lottery
- Global Economy Issues with Novel Corona Virus Situation
Let’s look at each of the above in little more detail.
H1B Visa petitions filing Trends, Historical Data
If you look at the H1B Visa Filing Numbers History, you can see that we had H1B Lottery in the past 7 consecutive years…That’s crazy, if you think of it…every year, there were more petitions filed than the available H1B Visa Cap (close to 85,000 per year). We believe that it is going to be no different this year too. Last year, we had 201,011 Petitions filed for FY 2020 season, which was even 11,000 higher than previous year of 190,098 for FY 2019. If you look at the historical data represented in below charts, you can see the demand trend and the forecast. Statistically, we are going to have lottery for sure…but, in terms of actual H1B filing numbers, they are not going to be based on pure data and filing trends…rather they are going to be many factors that influence them like economy, H1B rules, growth, etc. We will share our predicted lottery numbers in the last after we review all the other factors.
US Economy Growth, Unemployment Rate
It is very important to understand the state of US economy and unemployment rate as they are the key drivers for hiring of high skilled H1B workers. As you can see in below chart screenshot, the unemployment rate has been lowest in the recent years and it has been hovering around 3.5%, it is very clear that there are less people unemployed and very likely there would be more demand for high skilled workers as well. Also, the US GDP (Gross Domestic Product) Annual Growth rate has been modest as well hovering around same levels as previous year of around 2.1%, while not the greatest growth, it is not the worst too…You can see the trend in the graph, it declined slightly but it is picking up…This may change in future with the Global Coronavirus situation, we will look at that aspect at the end. Overall, from US economy standpoint, it is doing Ok as of now and it will factor in to file more H1B petitions for this year lottery.
You may just watch the below YouTube Video as well, if it easier than reading
F1 Visa Students in US – New Graduates, OPT, STEM OPT Extension Holders
One of the major drivers for H1B visas filings is the number of International students on F1 visa planning to work after their graduation. If you look at the graph, numbers in below screenshot from Open Doors IEE 2019 Report, you can see the number of OPT students have gone up by 9.6% to reach 223,085. So, pretty much a good number of the 223,085 students working on OPT would very likely file for H1B either this year or in future. Also, there were about 377,943 Graduate students from 2018/19 year, of which 40% of them are in STEM degrees, which is about 150,000 students. If you look at the overall numbers, based on the split, we have about 240,000 (150k+90k), many of whom could potentially file this year. Just for the sake of assumption, even if 30% of them file this year, it would come to 80,000 just from these two. You need to factor in undergraduate students too…Overall, the number of F1 students either graduating or on OPT/STEM OPT are going to be very high and this will add up a lot to the H1B Lottery registration numbers.
H4 visa Holders, H4 EAD Rule Removal Concerns
In general, H4 Visa holders cannot work, unless they qualify and apply for H4 EAD. Firstly, many of the recent H4 visa holders, who were professionals and used to work in their home county would look for options to work in US…so, some of them would file for H1B visa. Also, for existing long time H4 holders, who are on their path to green card, there is so much of uncertainty on the future of H4 EAD with Lawsuit and Rule removal plan by DHS. DHS announced in their Fall 2019 regulatory agenda to revoke the H4 EAD rule with NPRM in March 2020…Also, the Appeals court sent the lawsuit back to district court to look at merits of the H4 EAD lawsuit filed by Save Jobs USA. As of today, there is no change, but due to uncertainty, there are at least 120,000 (until March 2019) H4 visa holders, who may be considering filing H1B as a backup option. The biggest advantage for working H4 holders is that they are on payroll and their employers would be more than happy to file H1B in Consular Processing instead of COS, as backup option. This will add up the and increase the H1B registration lottery numbers.
Trump Administration Rules – H1B RFE, Denials Trends
Since Trump administration has taken office, there has been more enforcement in the H1B program and more regulations. Some of the key ones are more H1B related site visits, fraud reporting options, computer programmers position policy, the introduction of Buy American and Hire American Executive Order, Policy Memo for H1B Third party worksites, additional clarification on duplicate petitions for related entities …all of these have increased the number of RFEs and the approval percentage has dropped to about 83.9% in FY 2019 from 95.7% in FY 2015. Also, the RFEs have gone up from 22.3% in FY 2015 to 39.6% in FY 2019. See below screenshot. Which means now, for every 10 petitions filed, there are about 4 petitions that end up in RFE. Also, the number of H1B Stamping 221g administrative processing cases has increased a lot too…you can check 221g Tracker as well. These RFE trends and policies by Trump administration are a big hurdle for all the IT body shop companies and also the MNCs that are in IT Outsourcing. This trend will discourage many such firms from filing and reduce the number of H1B registrations for this year.
New H1B Registration Process, $10 Fee
One of the biggest changes in H1B program in many years is the introduction of H1B Registration Process, this is a big time and money saver for many of the companies, including USCIS. But, the barrier to apply has really come down for all employers, including the bad actors in IT bodyshop kind of companies. If you look at the Cost of Filing H1B Visa, it can cost anywhere from $1,700 USD to $7,900 excluding attorney fee to file a H1B petition…in past and employers had to do a lot of paperwork before they even know the results…so much of time and effort was wasted…Now, with the New H1B Registration Tool, it is all online and the cost is $10 to start with and very little effort. So, the barrier to apply is low, so many employers would consider putting the registration in the lottery. Also, the low entry barrier always increases people trying to game the system and apply two or three registrations with IT Body shop companies, so that is a tricky situation…need to see how USCIS will deal with the fraud…Even though companies may not file more H1Bs, they would be more keen to apply as the barrier to entry and effort is low. So, the number of H1B registrations would be higher for sure with the registration system in place…. This adds up the number for H1B Lottery.
Previous H1B Applicants not picked in Lottery
Many of the H1B seeks from previous years end up disappointed with their H1B lottery results. Many of them do not give up, on our blog we know many users applying for 4th or 5th time…In terms of numbers, we had lottery for last 7 consecutive years…in total, we had about 7*85,000 = 595,000 H1B slots, but we had about 1,355,609 (total of previous 7 years’ filings = 124,000+172,500+233,000+236,000+199,000+190,098 + 201,011). If we do the math, we had about 760,609 people, who were unlucky. Even, if 10% of them apply, that would be about 76,000 petitions for the upcoming season. This will definitely add up a lot of H1B numbers for the lottery.
Global Economy Issues with Novel Corona Virus Situation
As you all know, the whole world is in crisis with the Novel Coronavirus situation…The world economy is hit really hard and stocks have taken a big plunge…as per Guardian, it is estimated that this could cost global economy about 1.1 trillion dollars. This will have a big impact on the US GDP growth and the economy as most of the US sold goods depend on China…Technically, this crisis may or may not have an immediate impact on the upcoming H1B visa filing season and for the registration lottery…the reason is, usually the decision to file H1B would have been taken by the companies before the Corona Virus situation, so it may not have direct impact on the H1B filings and numbers now. But, if the situation worsens and there is recession, there could be job losses in later part of the year and that can lead to employers not able to honor the H1B filings or the offer to have H1B applicants join on October 1st. Only time will tell, it is very hard to predict the situation…
Now, the million dollar question, how many petitions in H1B lottery for FY 2021 ? Let’s look at the summary and numbers…
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H1B Visa 2021 Lottery Predictions – How many Petitions ?
If we look at summary, below is the influence by each of the factors
- H1B Visa petitions filing Trends, Historical Data – Will have lottery
- US Economy Growth, Unemployment Rate – More H1B Filings
- F1 Students in US – New Graduates, OPT, STEM OPT Holders – More H1B filings
- H4 visa Holders, H4 EAD Rule Removal Concerns – More H1B filings
- New H1B Registration Process, $10 Fee – More H1B filings
- Trump Administration Rules – H1B RFE, Denials Trends – Less H1B filings
- Previous H1B Applicants not picked in Lottery – More H1B filings
- Global Economy Issues with Novel Corona Virus Situation – No immediate impact
It is pretty clear that we will have H1B lottery situation in the new registration system. Despite the Trump Administration’s changes and tighter rules, still there is a huge demand for high skilled workers in the US and the situations of F1 students on OPT, STEM OPT, including H4 EAD holders are very likely to trigger a lot more petitions. Also, there are so many who have tried and been unlucky in previous years, they all may reach out to their previous employers and seek to file petitions this year as the cost to file in the beginning is low…All in all, we do not anticipate any drop in numbers for the upcoming season. We predict anywhere from 230,000 to 260,000 H1B registrations to be submitted for Fiscal year 2021.
Now that we have looked at the lottery situation, next are the timelines and results. Let’s look at them.
H1B 2021 Lottery, Registration Timelines, Results
If you look at the H1B overall timelines for FY 2021, the H1B Registration Dates are open now and it will last until March 20th. USCIS will conduct lottery after that date and would give H1B Lottery Results by March 31st, 2020. This may come early too. One key thing to remember, USCIS will not give final result of Not Selected in Registration, until they believe they have got enough petitions for the fiscal year. They usually select anywhere from 13 to 15% more petitions to factor in for denials, withdrawals, etc.
Below are the various dates that are given by USCIS for the H1B 2021 Season, with registration dates and results dates.
- February 24th, 10 AM, EST, 2020 : Employers can create H1B registrant accounts
- March 1st, Noon EST, 2020 : Employer can start to submit H1B Registrations
- March 20th , Noon EST, 2020 : H1B Registration period ends.
- March 31st, 2020 : H1B Lottery/ Selection Results Deadline (can come before).
- April 1st, 2020 : USCIS accepts H1B petition with LCA, full info for FY 2021
- June 30th, 2020 : 90 Days deadline ends for filing of H1B petitions for FY 2021
You can read 29 H1B Registration FAQs to understand various aspects of new system.
What are your thoughts on the H1B Lottery ? What are your H1B lottery predictions ? Add your thoughts in comments below.