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What is H1B Visa Lottery? FY 2023 Process? Registration, Lottery Order?

If you are new to the H1B visa application process, many of you might come across terms like “H1B Lottery” or “H1B Registration Lottery”, which may seem completely new to you. This article covers everything you need to know about H1B Registration Lottery like its background, how the H1B lottery works, how is it related to registration, and common FAQs.

If you are new to the H1B process and not sure about what is H1B cap is, then read What is H1B Visa Cap ? Masters vs Regular Quota ?

What is H1B Visa Lottery ? Random Selection ?

When you look at the term lottery, it is very misleading for new people. I have seen questions from users asking, “where should I buy H1B Visa 2023 lottery ticket? I want to get H1B…”   Firstly, there is nothing like buying a lottery ticket for an H1B visa. You cannot buy any H1B lottery ticket.  It is just the terminology that is used to indicate the “random selection” process used by USCIS.

H1B lottery is nothing but a “random selection process” used to select the required number of H1B applicants from a larger pool of applicants. The lottery selection is done to select enough applicants to meet the H1B Cap of 65,000 for the Regular quota and 20,000 for Master’s quota.

Origin of term H1B Lottery: USCIS originally called the H1B lottery process officially as “computer-generated random selection processes”, which was back in 2007…as time progressed and people have started to embrace the colloquial word called “Lottery” for the same…You can see that USCIS has embraced the same and say “computer-generated process, also known as the lottery“, in recent years, including this year’s, press release as it is easily understood and many can relate to it.

Why H1B Visa Lottery ? Is it mandatory ?

The H1B Lottery situation arises due to a fixed number of H1B visa slots available (total around 85K) per year for new applicants. If there are more than 85,000 applicants applying for H1B in a year, then the H1B Lottery situation arises.

If you look at history, we had the H1B visa lottery situation for FY 2008 and FY 2009 as there were more petitions received by USCIS. After that, there was no lottery situation for 4 years. Again the demand for H1B Visas started from FY 2014 and now we had it for the previous 9 consecutive years, including the previous fiscal year 2022.

Read History of H1B Cap Reach Dates from 2000 to 2022 for more info. For the most recent fiscal year, USCIS received about 308,613 petitions for FY 2022 and there was three round of lottery as well.  

H1B Lottery Process before Online Registration System

In the past, until FY 2020 season ( that ended in April 2019), employers had to submit the entire H1B petition package within the first 5 days, starting from April 1st to be considered for the H1B Lottery. For the H1B petitions received, they would tag each petition with a number and use a computer-generated random selection to pick the required number of petitions to meet the cap.

The H1B applicant information from the physical H1B packages was fed into the USCIS online system and then a lottery or random selection was done. This changed from FY 2021 season with the introduction of the Online Registration System. Let’s look at that online registration process in detail next section.

News: H1B FY 2023 Season Started on March 1st, 2022, and ends on March 18th, 2022. Check article H1B Visa FY 2023 Dates and Results Timeline

H1B Lottery Process with Online Registration System

Starting from H1B Fiscal Year 2021 (March 2020), USCIS introduced the Online H1B Registration Process, where the complete paper-based submission process of H1B petitions for lottery selection was removed. Instead of that, they introduced a simple lightweight online process to register an applicant, whom they wish to sponsor H1B for the upcoming fiscal year. USCIS will use that details to run the computer-generated random selection or lottery to pick the candidates who can file the actual H1B Petition.

In the new H1B registration process, employers would submit basic details of the H1B Applicants in an Online H1B Registration Tool. When registrations are created, there is a long 19 digit number that is generated by the system. That number is used for internal tracking and by USCIS to run the H1B Lottery. The process of running random selection or lottery is fully electronic.

You can see the below screenshot of the H1B Registration Selection notice that has the Beneficiary Confirmation Number.

H1B Registration Confirmation Number - Sample Selection Notice
H1B Registration Selected Notice in Lottery – Beneficiary Confirmation Number

H1B Lottery Process for FY 2023 Season

There are no changes in the H1B Lottery process for FY 2023 Season. It will be similar to the previous years and be based on computer-based random selection. There will not be any preference given to any applicant based on their country of origin, salary, education, etc.

H1B Lottery based on Wage Levels Not Applicable for FY 2023 Season: DHS published a final rule in January 2021 stating that they would conduct the H1B Lottery based on H1B Wage Levels. But, a court case was filed in October 2020 challenging this rule, and eventually, in September 2021, the court canceled the H1B Lottery based on the Wage Levels Rule. USCIS Officially withdrew the rule from Federal Register in December 2021. 

H1B Lottery Order – Regular vs Masters Quota

USCIS will pick enough registration to fill the H1B cap, which is about 65,000 for the Regular cap and 20,000 for Master’s cap. The order of the H1B Lottery is very critical as it will define the probability of getting selected.

Previous H1B Lottery Order :

  • In the past, before FY 2020, the random selection aka H1B lottery was first conducted for Masters quota and then the unselected petitions from masters quota were put down in the general quota pool and a random selection algorithm was run for general quota cap. 
  • Starting from H1B FY 2020 Season (March 2019), to give more priority of US Masters students, USCIS changed the order of lottery, when they got the Registration Process regulation was implemented. Let’s look at the order of the lottery in detail.

H1B Visa 2023 Tracker – To help the community, we have partnered with VisaGrader to build an Anonymous H1B Visa Tracker for FY 2023. Use H1B Visa 2023 Tracker to add your case for community benefit and your benefit.

Current H1B Lottery Order with H1B Registration Process (FY 2023)

DHS went through the 9 Steps of the Federal rule-making process and published the H1B registration rule that included the change in the H1B lottery process, where the order of lottery changed.

Below is the new process starting from FY 2020 season (March 2019):

  • Step 1 : The first lottery is conducted on the entire pool of H1B registrations to select the applicants required to fill the regular cap quota of 65,000.
  • Step 2 : The unselected Masters quota petitions from that entire pool are taken out and then a lottery is run to select the US masters quota cap for 20,000 petitions.
  • Step 3 : The selected H1B applicants from both the regular quota and master’s quota cap are notified.
  • Step 4 : The unselected H1B applicants from both the Step 1 and Step 2 are placed in reserve pool to conduct lottery in second or third round as needed.

Below is the full flow chart on how the lottery works.

H1B Visa Registration Process Lottery Order and Process Diagram Flow

US Masters Students Advantages with H1B Registration System

USCIS says that individuals with US Masters’ degrees earn 19.6 percent more than individuals with bachelor’s degrees. So, the reversal of lottery selection will ensure higher-paid and most skilled ones are working in the US on H1Bs.

The change in lottery order will result in 16% ( about 5,340 more) more US Masters’s students being selected for H1B petition filings. DHS believes that the new rule is merit-based as the new lottery order will increase US masters students getting H1Bs.

Let’s summarize the New H1B Registration Process with Lottery for easy understanding.

Step by Step H1B Registration Process with Lottery Order 

Step 1 – Pool of Potential Hires for H1B Sponsoring : Employers interested in sponsoring H1B for individuals they intend to hire, will need to first electronically register the individuals with USCIS during the specified registration period as given by USCIS.

Step 2 -Registration of H1B Applicants: Employers will get at least 14 days ( 18 days for FY 2023 from March 1st, to March 18th ) to electronically register the individuals with their company information. They can edit, delete and modify the candidate details until the registration period closes.

Step 3 – H1B Lottery Process: USCIS will conduct computer-generated random selection aka Lottery to select regular quota filing registrants, then the masters’ quota are separated and lottery is run to select the US masters quota filing registrants.

Step 4 – Notify Selected Registrants: USCIS Notifies electronically the selected registrants’ employer/sponsors to file H1B petitions within 90 days. They will time it to fall on April 1st. The unselected registrations are kept on reserve to do another selection as needed.

Step 5  – File H1B Petitions with USCIS: Employers need to file H1B petitions using the standard process like before using LCA, Fees, and all the information supporting the H1B job offer for the selected registrant.

Step 6  – USCIS Processing: USCIS will adjudicate the petition as per their standard process and inform employers regarding their petition. The below diagram show the same info.

H1B Visa Registration Process Flow Final Rule
H1B Visa Registration Process Flow Final Rule


Is the H1B Registration Process, Lottery applicable for H1B Visa 2023 Season?

Yes. The H1B Registration process, including the H1B Lottery process, are applicable for FY 2023 season. There H1B registration process is electronic, you can read  H1B Registration Tool, Process with Screenshots. 

What happens, if you do not get selected in H1B Lottery ? New Registration System ?

In the past, if you did not get selected in H1B Lottery, you used to get a physical rejection letter and the filing fee was returned to the employer. Check out Sample H1B Rejection Letters – NOT Picked in Lottery. But now, with the new H1B Registration System, you will not get a physical notice of rejection. There will be a status change in the registration system that says ‘Not Selected’.

Is USCIS Mandated to conduct the H1B lottery, if more Registrations are filed ? What’s the regulation ? 

Yes, USCIS is mandated to conduct H1B Lottery or random selection. Before electronic registration system, they were also mandated to have the filing window open to file for the first 5 days. You can check details at USCIS Regulations on H1B Lottery. With the new registration system in place, the concept of paper notices and general lottery is not there anymore and USCIS would conduct the H1B Lottery electronically using their online system if they receive more registrations within the registration period.

If you are keen on understanding, how the entire H1B Lottery process used to work in the past you can read below.

History of H1B Visa Lottery Process until FY 2019

USCIS followed the below H1B lottery process until FY 2019 season. This concept of lottery or random selection would only be applied, when we had had more petitions than the required for actual cap count as we had a lottery situation for H1B visa 2019 quota.  The process has been pretty much similar since its inception by USCIS  since 2007.

  • Step 1 : First step  that USCIS would do as soon as it receives a H1B petition is to label and identify each of the petitions with a unique identifier. This is the number that would be used for random selection algorithm.  Once it is labeled, they will group the overall petitions into two sets, one as masters quota and one as regular quota.
  • Step 2 :  If there are more than 20,000 petitions received for masters quota, they would run a computer generated random selection process, which is called H1B lottery, across all the masters petitions pool to pick the 20,000 petitions that would meet the cap for Masters quota for FY 2019.
  • Step 3 :  All the H1B petitions filed under master’s quota, that did NOT get selected in the lottery or random selection are placed or combined with all the pool of petitions received regular quota H1B petitions.
  • Step 4 :  If the total number of petitions in the combined pool are over 65,000 petitions, which is the cap limit, a computer generated random selection process is run on the pool to identify the petitions that will qualify for the regular quota cap limit.
  • Step 5 :  USCIS will send the list of all selected petitions numbers to the service centers. The USCIS service centers will proceed with next level H1B Visa processing for adjudication of the selected petitions.
  • Step 6 : All the petitions that were not selected in random selection process or lottery will be returned to their respective parties either attorneys or the employers directly along with the Fee. If there were duplicate filings for a same employee by an employer, no fee will be returned. More info below on this step.
  • Step 7 : USCIS will inform all the selected petition holders with their case number for tracking purposes during processing. It will be an EAC number. Read more on the H1B Visa EAC Numbering Info .

Below is a high-level diagram that shows the process until FY 2019 season. You can watch the Video below the chart to understand the H1B Lottery Process Step by Step.

USCIS H1B Visa Lottery Process Diagram
Previous H1B Lottery Process Before FY 2019 Season

Does that give you a good understanding on the Old and New H1B lottery process  ? Did we miss anything ? Add your thoughts in comments.


Other Articles


  1. Much to my surprise, we have received our first 40 email notifications from the Vermont Service Center for H-1B petitions filed in the lottery. These were filed in the Advanced Degree (masters cap). Received date on the email is April 11th. The first emails came in at 7:55 pm last night.

    I cannot find any announcement form USCIS that the lottery was conducted or how many petitions were filed. This is out of the ordinary.

    We have also received our first notification from California Service Center at 11:13 this morning!

  2. Hi ,

    I am currently working on F1 CPT and my husband want to apply H4 premium as I am eligible to get H4 EAD. My CPT is valid until sep 30 , if my H4 is approved in between .Should I stop working or can I work until sep 30?

    Saurabh or anyone , please let me know your comments.

    • Swetha,

      You will have to apply for COS from F-1 to H-4 along w/ EAD. Once COS is approved, you will be considered on H-4 status from the effective date mentioned in received approval notice. You have to stop maintaining F-1 status from that date, and start maintaining H-4 status.

      This date can very well be prior to Sep 30.

      • Thank you for your reply.

        After I get the H4 EAD , after applying the COS,if COS is still in process and my CPT is not expired than can I work under CPT?

        • Swetha,

          You need to apply for COS in order to get H-4. So you have to file I-539 for H-4 COS and I-765 for H-4 EAD. This will be processed in parallel and will be approved/denied together. Once they are approved, your status will become H-4 and you need to stop studying on F-1. You can continue to work using your H-4 EAD at this point.

          Makes sense?

  3. Quick Question:
    When does USCIS will start lottery?
    a. After getting maximum application with in first five days of April?
    b. Or when it reach it’s maximum limit of 85k (20k + 65), irrespective of how many application they got in first 5 days?

  4. Hi,

    If i get through lottery & gets rejected at Consulate . Can my H1b Lottery result still holds good for the next year with the same company or do i again need to go though the lottery again for the next year.

    • No- Accepet petition is not guarantee to enter in USA, you can enter USA until you have a valid working visa.

      This will be not valid for next year, if they rejected you, it means you did some faulty thing and how faulty thing can allow for next year.

      They will give chance to you before reject to submit any document on which they have doubt.


    • Unless you clear the RFE you will not get proper visa from USCIS. If you clear the RFE immediately they will take your passort for Visa stamping. that’s final. rfe’s are different in nature. For ex. Proper PO required from client along with filing you h1. They may ask your emloyers proper details like their office pics 7 their size of emplyees & their annual turnover details.

  5. Hi All,

    USCIS conduct their verification on education and employment before lottery or after lottery? Can you please respond as soon as possible

    • Priyanka,

      They would do that only after the lottery has been conducted. This way it needs to happen for only 85K petitions and not 200K petitions.

      Think about it – When they return the entire fees for non-selected petitions, why would they spent time and effort in doing document verification for them.

  6. I am on b1/b2 visa and my ist entry is till 15 May 2016 so can I apply for h1 visa.i got my m.phil in agriculture economics from Pakistan and mba from uk.anyone can help me regarding this?

    • Waqar,

      An employer can file H-1B for you (you don’t apply for H-1, an employer does). Few things that may go wrong or delay your H-1 petition:

      – USCIS will have to determine if you entered US on B-1/2 only so that you can apply for H-1 (which is a misuse). If they feel that you misused B-1 then it could hamper H-1 petition

      – You are from Pakistan and that could cause the petition to get stuck in security check (unfortunately). This could delay the processing and may sound disadvantageous to potential employer

  7. I’m currently on L1B visa and working for Indian MNC in USA. My company told me that they have filed, H1B visa and it’s not got selected in lottery.

    Now, how can I make sure whether they have really applier or not? Bcoz I heard some rumors about my company process.

    When I ask for receipt number, they are telling.. they haven’t received any receipt number bcoz it’s not selected in lottery.

    Can someone help me to understand the process?

    • Ask for lottery rejection notice. All petitions that were filed for H1B 2015 and that were subject to the cap, will receive a rejection letter that states that petition was unselected.

  8. My Employer still says my H1 lottery result is pending with USCIS .
    Can there be any more hopes ?? as this August Already !! any one still on the same boat ??

    • could any one suggest on this status, still my status shows as below:-

      On April 13, 2015, we received your Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Receipt Number EAC1514251***, and sent you the receipt notice that describes how we will process your case. Please follow the instructions in the notice. If you do not receive your receipt notice by May 13, 2015, please call Customer Service at 1-800-375-5283. If you move, go to uscis.gov/addresschange to give us your new mailing address.

  9. Hi Everyone,

    I have applied for h1 and i have USCIS number ( when i am trying to search status the following message appears can you please help me to understand what is next?

    On April 13, 2015, we received your Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Receipt Number EAC1514354564, and sent you the receipt notice that describes how we will process your case. Please follow the instructions in the notice. If you do not receive your receipt notice by May 13, 2015, please call Customer Service at 1-800-375-5283. If you move, go to uscis.gov/addresschange to give us your new mailing address.

    Looking forward for your response.


  10. Hi ,

    Is the H1B lottery selection process completed ? Because still we did not receive the documents from USCIS. When do I come to know I am selected or not?

    Rupesh Dasari

  11. Hi,

    My attorney in the USA has applied for H1B and got the info 1mth ago that my fee cheque has been cleared, still i didnt receive the receipt number. Does this mean that ive got selected in the lottery and waiting for receipt# or have i not got selected? pls advice.


  12. Hi., my husband applied for H1B he waited til last list which selected 7 numbers.. But he didnt..
    Is there any opportunity further to select from the rejected numbers…

    Moneesha gnanam

  13. Hi,
    My application has been selected in lottery and got the information a month back. But they have not shared any details of it apart from this information. So can you please tell me can I if my company doesn’t send me to US can I apply to US jobs on my own. They normally ask Visa ready person. But will they consider me?
    And till when this lottery be valid?

  14. This is what i heard from my consultant today 5/26.
    How to check whether consultant filled my H1 or not ?


    Unfortunately, it does not appear that your H1 was selected in lottery. We determine that by the fact that checks issued for filing fees are not cleared in bank, and so that would indicate at this late date that it did not make the selection process.

    Sorry to give a bad news.

  15. Hi
    Does any one know that H1B lottery is completed and result has been shared to all those who got selected, or still there are some slots open


  16. Hi All,
    I have few queries,written below.
    1.Does Random selection(lottery) happen in one slot?
    2.My employer said me that they are getting result in partial and still some hope to get the lottery selction which actually make me confused.

    Anyone pls help me out wheather should i keep still some hope or for this year nothing can happen.

  17. Hi my sis got picked up in this lottery…but now she already have been selected in another job paying her double the package shes earning now. She is confused what to do? if she joins other company in 2-3 months from now will she loose her h1b ?

  18. Last week my employer told that my application got picked up in lottery(cheque got en-cashed) . But now they told that there was some mistake in filing the H1B petition that the cheques got exchanged with another person whom they filed and the cheque which is encashed is not against for my application and now i have to wait for some more time to know my application in lottery result.

    Can some one let me know the process of lottery more in detail?

  19. Hi All, I have received EAC# which says my case is received on 13 Apr, and at the same time I checked another EAC# next to mine, which has different status “case is approved”. So now I have doubt whether my case is declined as they case is approved for next EAC # . Any one knows how this selection happens is it serially etc..

  20. Hi Guys. I have heard from my Employer that my H1 is picked. I got a receipt number but i have an issue. I need to apply for H1 in regular quota rather than Advanced Degree as my University is a profit organization. My employer does not know how the lawyer applied it. I am trying to contact the lawyer but could not come in contact now. Does my receipt tell me under which quota my H1B has been picked. Any help will be appreciated.
    Thank you.

  21. Hi,
    I have received WAC number last week, I am wondering what is the next step by USCIS and also in the above blog(How would the lottery work).-What step am I in (step 7??)? Thank you.

  22. Hi,
    I read a news about lottery for 2016 cap happened on 13th Apr 2015. Could somebody help me knowing, when is the possible date to know the status whether my case is selected for lottery or not?

  23. USCIS website it says that yesterday the 13th of April they’ve done the random selection. How soon will be able to find out if your application was selected or not?

  24. I have a question! I’m out of States and I’ve applied for the H1b 2016 lottery visa. If you go on the USCIS website it says that yesterday the 13th of April they’ve done the random selection. How soon will be able to find out if your application was selected or not? If you’ve applied through an attorney, are they the first ones to find out if the applicant was selected or not? Thank you!

  25. Guys, there is same chance of winning a lottery than getting selected on H1B selection. I recommend buy a lottery ticket every time you reply. YOU get SELECTED you might WIN lottery money sometime..LOL. So you have a job with money already!

  26. How do we know in first place that my application has been sent to USCIS. I believe EAC/WAC comes only after it gets picked in the lottery. But is there any way that one can come to know that an employer has actually filed a petition?

  27. I am completing my masters in April, If i apply for H1 can i stay back till i get a decision?
    P.S – I’m not eligible for OPT.

    • Monu, it does not work on a company basis and there is no priority given for companies, it is just the regular vs masters quota for conducting lottery.

      • Means if big companies are filing thousands of H1 application and a small company is filing few then big company has more opportunity to get H1 because they has more probability to get select.

  28. Is there still any chance to be selected ? My lawyer says there’s no chance but they haven’t heard anything from the USCIS yet ! Please help ! I lost my hope 2 months ago but sometimes I hear that people say there’s still a chance !

  29. Hi,

    Is there anything like “Waiting list” after the lottery process. i.e if an application is rejected after selected in the lottery, will they select any applications which will not select lottery for further processing. 65,000 is number of visas or number of applications?
    Please clarify me.

    Thanks & Regards

  30. my employer told on may 9th that my application was selected in lottery but they have not received the receipt number yet.>Till now I didn’t get any update on receipt number or on rejection…is it really possible for employer to get notification on the lottery results alone without receipt number? Any information on similar case would really be helpful….

  31. if the lottery is randomly selected from the submitted forms then probability for first lottery selected is 65000 / (172500 – 20000) and for the last lottery selected is 1 / (172500 – 20000 – 64999)

  32. Today April 16,2014. I have been chosen in the H1B visa lottery. USCIS will now be reviewing the merits of my application. In approximately two weeks, I will receive the final decision. I am a Canadian Citizen, My B2 expires in June 6th, 2014. I was told that I should leave before June 6th and remain in Canada until I receive my H-1B (October). My question is once I have received the final decision from USCIS in approx two weeks will I be able to start working right away? If not, when should I return to Canada and for how long should I stay there? When will I be able to work in USA?



    • Jenn,
      Like Joon said, you can enter at most 10 days prior to H-1 start date (which is Oct 1). Also, you will have to return after getting your H-1 visa stamped and need to leave before your current I-94 expiration date. Do not stay too long on B-1 or you may be asked during interview about your US trip’s long stay.


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