If you are new to the H1B visa application process, many of you would have heard about it or maybe wondering about the H1B lottery, with questions like below:
- What is it ? How would the H1B Visa lottery work ?
- What is the process of H1B lottery ?
- What would USCIS do for FY 2019, if in lottery situation ?
- How have USCIS done lottery it in the past ?
- What is the proposed Lottery Changes with pre-registration by USCIS ?
Let me take some time to address some of these questions. We have another article that has clarifications on the same : All About H1B Visa Caps and Lottery.
What is H1B Visa Lottery ? Do you have to buy a H1B lottery ticket? Process ?
When you look at the term lottery, it is very misleading for new people. I had seen questions from users asking, “where should I buy H1B Visa 2019 lottery ticket ? I want to get H1B…” Firstly, let me clarify, there is nothing like buying a lottery ticket for H1B visa. You cannot buy any H1B lottery ticket. It is just the terminology that is used. It was officially called as “computer-generated random selection processes” by USCIS in 2007 for FY 2008…as time progressed and people have started to embrace colloquial word called “Lottery” for the same…You can see that USCIS have 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.
How has USCIS done Random Selection or H1B Lottery in the past ? What is the exact process ?
Historically, we had H1B visa lottery for FY 2008, FY 2009, and recently in last 5 years, including current fiscal year. Check out History of H1B Cap Reach Dates from 2000 to 2018 . For the most recent fiscal year, USCIS received about 199,000 applications for H1B FY 2018 quota, and there was lottery as well. If you look at the probability, USCIS received almost 2.34 times the actual cap subject number of about 85,000 numbers (65,000 regular quota + 20,000 Masters quota). They tagged each petition with a number and used that to run the random algorithm. The random selection aka lottery was first run for Masters quota and the petitions that were not selected in masters quota, were put down in the general quota pool and random algorithm was run on the same for general quota cap. All the selected petitions were processed.
Is USCIS Mandated to conduct H1B lottery, if more petitions filed ? What’s the regulation ?
Yes, USCIS is mandated to conduct H1B Lottery and they need to have the window open to file for first 5 days. You can check details at USCIS Regulations on H1B Lottery .
How would H1B Visa Lottery Process work? How about for FY 2020 ?
Let me elaborate more on how the concept of random selection would work as we have more petitions than the required for actual cap count and 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 the high level diagram that shows the process.
What happens, if you do not get selected in H1B Lottery ?
If you do NOT get selected in Lottery, you would get a rejection letter and the filing fee is returned to the employer. Check out Sample H1B Rejection Letters – NOT Picked in Lottery
What is the New Lottery Process from USCIS with Pre-registration Proposed Rule for H1B Process ?
USCIS has published a rule that is in ” proposed rule stage” to change the process of H1B by introducing a concept of electronic registrations. In this new process, they plan to change the way H1B lottery is conducted for the registrations by swapping the order of Lottery. Currently, first lottery is conducted for US Masters holders to meet 20,000 cap and then US Masters petitions not selected in that pool were added to regular quota pool and lottery is conducted for the entire pool to meet 65,000 cap quota. Now, with the new proposed rule, USCIS will reverse the order. With the new rule, first lottery is done from the entire pool of registrations to meet regular quota cap of 65,000 cap and then lottery is done only for US Masters or higher degree applicants to meet the 20,000 cap. They estimate that it will increase the chances of US Masters quota applicants by 16%, which is approximately 5,340 additional petitions selected for US Masters quota candidates. Below is the new process and also, we have a short video below for you to watch and understand.
Does that give you a good understanding on the H1B lottery process ? What do you think of new process ? Did I miss anything ? Any comments to add ? Questions ?