In the last consecutive 9 years, starting from FY 2014 season, the demand for H1B visas always exceeded the available 85,000 slots of H1B cap per year, leading to H1B Lottery during all these years. All the hard-working professionals test their luck with random selection ( aka H1B Lottery) to work in the US after years of experience or education… a sad reality, but true!
This year is going to be no different from previous years as the H1B Visa FY 2023 season starts in a day from March 1st, 2022. In this article, we will review various factors that determine the number of H1B registrations and predict our estimate of H1B registrations count for this year’s H1B lottery.
If you are looking for H1B 2024 Season related predictions, read H1B Visa 2024 Lottery Predictions, Analysis article
H1B 2023 Lottery Results are out. On March 29th, USCIS Released an official press note indicating the same, But, they did not release any numbers. You can Read USCIS update – H1B 2023 Lottery First Round done, Summary and previously shared details on H1B Visa 2023 Lottery Results with Sample Notice
Factors that determine H1B Registrations Count
We believe that below are some of the key factors that influence the total count of H1B registrations for the upcoming H1B Fiscal Year(FY) 2023 season:
- Historical Trend of H1B Registrations/Filings
- Current State of US Economy & Unemployment
- COVID-19 Vaccination, Pandemic Situation, Travel
- Biden Administrations – USCIS H1B Approval Rates
- F1 Students, OPT & STEM OPT Students
- H4 EAD, Upcoming Premium Processing for H4 EAD
- Past applicants not picked in H1B Lottery, Low H1B Filing Fee
- Changes to the H1B Registration Text
Let’s look at each of the above factors in detail.
Historical Trend of H1B Registrations/Filing
If we look at the H1B visa cap filings history from FY 2004, we can get an idea of the overall trend. If we look closely at the trend for the last 10 years as shown in the below graph, we had the H1B lottery for the last consecutive 9 years. Based on that simple fact, we can say that there will be H1B Lottery for sure for the registrations submitted for FY 2023.
The H1B Visa Cap Quota of 85,000 is for both regular and US masters quotas. If we look at last year for FY 2022, we had 308,613 H1B registrations filed. It was the highest ever in terms of either submitted registrations or petitions filed with USCIS since the H1B Visa program was created.
Below is the graph that depicts the H1B registrations and H1B petition filings every year from FY 2004 until 2022. The graph clearly tells, we would have an H1B lottery and it definitely tells that the demand keeps rising every year despite the COVID pandemic. We will revisit this and give our prediction at the end.
Current State of US Economy & Unemployment
US Economy has rebounded from the pandemic effect and is now almost at its previous levels. If you see the below graph of US GDP growth rate and US Unemployment Rate, they are almost back to normal. The current unemployment rate is at 4%, compared to 6.2% last year during Feb 2021. US GDP Growth rate was at 7% in Q4 2021.
These two metrics define the growth and opportunities for jobs. As we are back to previous levels, there is very likely going to be high demand for H1B visa holders. This will increase the total number of H1B registrations that will be filed this year by US employers.
COVID-19 Vaccination, Pandemic Situation, Travel
The overall COVID pandemic situation globally and in the US has got under little control in the past 6 months. Primarily, it is not the decrease in Coronavirus cases but a decrease in terms of the death and hospitalization rate. This is mainly due to the increase in vaccination. Since the Biden administration took office, they have heavily pushed for vaccination and even mandated federal employees to be vaccinated.
This change in the pandemic situation lifted travel bans and reduced the restrictions to travel between America and other countries. Many H1B holders could not travel to the US last year due to the COVID pandemic. Also, many employers did not file for the H1B petition even though they were selected in H1B registrations due to travel situations and other logistics issues.
Now, with the travel restrictions easing, H1B applicants, if selected and approved, can apply for US Visa Stamping and travel to the US. This is encouraging for US employers to file for H1B to bring in talent from offshore to the US. This factor will increase the number of H1B filings for the upcoming FY 2023 season.
Biden Administration – USCIS H1B Approval Rates
After Biden Administration took office, they revoked the Buy American, Hire American Executive order. Due to this, there were many changes done to the way USCIS handled the H1B program and the H1B petition adjudication. The overall H1B approval rates have increased and the denial rates dropped drastically.
For FY 2021, the overall H1B petitions denial rate was about 4%. The approval rate is also very high for IT Outsourcing companies as well. To compare, see below H1B Approvals data for TCS and the screenshot below, it is pretty obvious how it has gone up in the last year or so.
This trend in H1B approvals is very friendly for Employers and you will see more employers encouraged to file H1B registrations. This factor also increases the total H1B registrations to be filed for this FY 2023 season.
Below is the H1B denial rate table put up by Forbes based on USCIS data.
F1 Students – Travel Restrictions, OPT, STEM OPT
As per USCIS H1B Registrations stats for FY 2022, roughly 48% of the H1B registrations were filed under the Master’s Quota cap. What this means is that for FY 2022, about 148,000 of the registrations came from F1 Students who have studied in US Masters or higher degree.
As we look at the data from OpenDoors Report as shown in the below screenshot, you can see that overall US international Students reduced by 15% for the academic year 2020-2021. This can be primarily attributed to the Travel Restrictions and COVID-related issues.
What is important to note is the total number of F1 OPT students is still over 200,000 in the US. If you see the preceding 3 years, it is still about the same and not much has changed. Also, about 40% of the F1 Students on OPT and STEM OPT are in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics(STEM) Category.
Now, as the total number of F1 and OPT students has not significantly changed based on the above data, we may not see a big drop in the filings from F1 and OPT (STEM OPT) students. We could expect around last year’s numbers. The total registrations from this segment could be anywhere from 140,000 to 150,000 H1B registrations for FY 2023 season.
H4 EAD, Upcoming Premium Processing for H4 EAD
Since Biden Administration took office, it has been a little positive for H4 visa holders. In terms of H4 EAD News, Biden Administration has withdrawn its plans to remove H4 EAD and it is here to stay. What it means is that many of the H4 Spouses may prefer to work on H4 EAD, instead of applying for H1B and going through the registration and lottery process and doing Change of Status to H1B
Also, USCIS plans to introduce H4 EAD Premium Processing and it has cleared the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review. Once the premium processing is implemented for H4 EAD holders, it is going to be much more lucrative and less hassle for H4 holders to work on H4 EAD than go through the lottery and try their luck.
These positive things for H4 visa holders with H4 EAD and the upcoming premium processing are going to reduce the H1B registrations from H4 visa holders living in the US. This factor reduces the number of registrations for FY 2023 season.
You can join the H1B 2023 Telegram Group for getting updates, ask questions, help each other
Past applicants not picked in H1B Lottery, Low H1B Filing Fee
Many of the previous applicants with aspirations to work in the US both within the US and outside of the US would not give up their hope in their first attempt. We have seen many even try 5 to 6 times and then got lucky. Just going by the human tendency to not give up on the first attempt, we can expect quite a few past applicants to try their luck this upcoming fiscal year. This will drive up the total number of H1B filings for this year.
Also, in the past, there was a lot of hassle to file an H1B petition and there were a lot of costs involved for employers upfront. Since the H1B registration Online System was introduced, it is not an expensive affair and costs only $10 cost upfront. Also, the process is very much easy without needing a lot of paperwork. This easy process will increase the H1B registrations filings for FY 2023 Season.
Changes to the H1B Registration Text
There is a new piece of text added on the USCIS H1B Registration Page that talks about attestation for all the H1B Registrations. Check the below screenshot for the new text. To be clear, it is not a new rule, it is just that USCIS will enforce it more stringently.
In general, when you are signing anything under ‘Penalty of Perjury’, it means that if you violate it, you can be fined, or imprisoned for up to 5 years, or both. Now, USCIS with the new text on its website, they are telling that, if applicants or companies collude and file multiple registrations for the same applicant they will have stricter enforcement.
Adding this new piece of text and guidance by USCIS definitely will reduce some IT Bodyshops trying to game the system. But, this may or may not have a significant impact on the overall H1B registrations. It may reduce about 5 to 10% of the registrations for the upcoming FY 2023 season.
Phew! That was a lot of information and analysis looking at various macroeconomic trends and numbers! Let’s now summarize and come up with predictions.
H1B Visa 2023 Lottery Predictions – How many registrations?
If we summarize all the above factors, below is how they influence
- Historical Trend of H1B Registrations/Filing – Will have H1B Lottery
- Current State of US Economy & Unemployment – More H1B Registrations
- COVID-19 Vaccination, Pandemic Situation, Travel – More H1B Registrations
- Biden Administrations – USCIS H1B Approval Rates – More H1B Registrations
- F1 Students, OPT & STEM OPT Students – More H1B Registrations
- H4 EAD, Upcoming Premium Processing for H4 EAD – Less H1B Registrations
- Past applicants not picked in H1B Lottery, Low H1B Filing Fee – More H1B Registrations
- Changes to the H1B Registration Text – Less H1B Registrations
If you look at all the factors, most of the factors weigh in that there will be more H1B registrations this year. Even though we are not done with the COVID pandemic, many of the macroeconomic factors are going in the positive direction and we can expect to see similar or more H1B registrations for the upcoming FY 2023 season.
Update: H1B 2023 Lottery Results are out. As of March 29th, we do not have an official count or number given by USCIS yet. They only said that the H1B cap is complete and first round of lottery was done. You can check all details with samples at H1B Visa 2023 Lottery Results Out – Sample Notice
Now, the big question is how many H1B registrations we can expect for the FY 2023 season? Based on our above analysis, we believe that there is a very high demand for H1B visas and we may see a small spike in the total H1B registrations submitted for FY 2023 when compared with last year. We predict that we may see H1B Registrations count anywhere between 310,000 to 340,000 for the fiscal year 2023.
H1B 2023 Registration Lottery Results and Timeline
Below are the timelines for the H1B Registration and Lottery results.
- H1B Registration Start Date : March 1st , 2022. 12 Noon EST
- H1B Registration End Date : March 18th, 2022. Noon EST
- H1B Lottery Results (First Round ) : Any time after March 25th, but before March 31st, 2022.
- H1B Petition Filing Start Dates (First Round) : April 1st, 2022.
- H1B Petition Filings End Dates (First Round ) : June 30th, 2022.
- H1B Lottery (Second Round) : In general, USCIS selects 13 to 15% more registrations than the quota to factor in for denials, withdrawals, etc. We do not know at this point, if there will be second round. We will only know after June 30th, if there will be second round.
You can read 30 H1B Registration FAQs to understand various aspects of the registration system, duplicate filings, etc.
What is your Prediction for H1B Visa 2023 Season? Share your numbers, thoughts in the comments section below.