H1B Lottery is conducted on all the applications that are received by USCIS in the first five business days. It happens if the total number goes beyond the annual cap of 85,000 applications. The United States Government’s annual cap for H1b Visas every year is 85,000. In case the USCIS gets more applications than the maximum cap then random lottery will be carried out for fair allocation of H1b visa.
The season for H1B starts every year in the month of April. No applications are accepted before April 1. This means the applications that reach before that date will be rejected. So, all applications are sent in only after April 1 of every year. Situations get worse when the economic growth is good and more organizations start hiring as that is the time when more people start filing for their H1b visa.
How Does It Work?
- The window for H1B application opens on April 1 of every year and it remains open till the time the maximum cap of 85,000 visa applications is reached.
- In case USCIS gets more applications than 85k, it stops accepting any further applications for H1b visa.
- USCIS takes a couple of days for conducting lottery. They announce before conducting it. During the same time USCIS will also mention the number of applications that it had received.
- After the lottery is over, receipt notices will be sent out by USCIS to the lucky winners of the lottery, whose applications were selected. Receipt notices will also be sent out to the people whose petitions are filed under the premium processing. Your lawyer will be receiving your receipt notices via email. In case you filed your petition under the premium processing and did not get the receipt, then probably you did not get through.
- USCIS will send out the H1B notices for the people who filed under the regular processing. Due to the process’ physical nature, the whole thing can take substantial amount of time.
- Rejection notices will be sent out by USCIS to all the people who did not get through. This is the last stage of the process. It starts by the end of June, every year. It can continue till the start of August.
What Are Your Chances Of Winning And What Is Masters Cap?
As we already know, 85,000 is the maximum cap of H1B application. Out of that number, 20,000 are kept aside for the applicants who have got their Master’s Degree from The United States of America. However, the degree must be from one of the US accredited universities. In case you already have a Master’s Degree from The United States, the chances of you winning are higher. This happens as fewer number of people will be your competition.
USCIS will carry out a different H1B lottery for all the people who hold advanced degrees. This is capped at a maximum of 20,000 applications per year. People who do not get through the Masters Cap join the general pool. Thus, they get a second chance of winning.
What Are The Benefits Of Premium Processing?
In case the fee is $1250, you can pay for the premium processing. It ensures that within a period of fifteen days of getting the H1B application there is adjudication. As an SLA is set by USCIS, the applications that have premium processing will be processed first. All the notifications and processing will be electronic as the deadlines are very tight. The lawyer you appointed will get the notification as soon as you get selected.
The notification will come to you within the first three weeks after the lottery is done. This means, by the end of April you will understand if you got through or not.
In case you have not filed under the premium processing, you will have to wait till June end as you will be getting the paper based notice only by that time. The issuance of that notice and the mail takes some time.
Something that you must remember is that this does not increase your winning chances. The lottery process is absolutely random and does not depend on the fact that you filed under the premium processing.
When Will You Get To Know If You Get Selected?
The processing order of H1B Visa 2017 applications in the lottery are as follows:
- Premium Processing Masters application – end of April
- Premium Processing Regular Cap – end of April
- Regular Processing Masters Cap – end of June
- Regular Processing Regular Cap – end of June
In general, an overlap can happen between master’s cap and regular cap. So, if people you know already get their notifications but you do not, then do not get disheartened. Time of processing depends on the centre of processing and other factors that are hard to determine or predict.
The initial notices of receipt will be rolled out right after the lottery ends and they will reach the people who have filed under the premium processing.
How Do You Know That You Are Selected?
There are three ways by which you can know if you get selected or not. They are as follows:
- The lawyer you appointed gets a receipt notice.
- The status of your SEVIS has changed.
- The cheque with processing fee gets encashed.
The best way to know if you are selected is getting the receipt notice. If you receive it, it means that you are already selected. However, don’t forget that your lawyer will be the one receiving it. You will never get it personally.
If your cheque is cashed, it can also be a signal that you are through. In case your petition gets selected, USCIS will cash your cheque.
The SEVIS status will become COS-approved if you get selected in the lottery. It applies to all the F1 students who have applied for a status change.
What if you do not get selected?
In case you do not get selected, you mustn’t lose hope. You can choose an alternative way of applying or you may wait for another year and try again.
Related Article About H1B Visa
- Details About H1b Visa
- H1b Visa Process After Lottery
- How To Get H1b Visa Extension
- How To Renew H1b Visa
- H1b Visa Dependent Employer
- Difference Between H1b And L1