This is part of the ongoing H-1B Frequently Asked Questions series, other posts are linked below. Contact your Dentons Immigration attorney for additional information and next steps on the H-1B application process and lottery.
Previous H-1B FAQ Post:
– Eligibility and Registration
Q: Will submitting my registration on the first day increase my odds of selection?
A: No. The lottery is conducted randomly after the registration period closes. Your odds for selection will increase with a US master’s or higher-level degree, otherwise, there is no way to improve your odds, it is truly random.
Q: What are my odds for selection?
A: This depends on the total number of cap registrants. The number varies each year. In FY 2023, there were nearly 484,000 H-1B registrations submitted for the 85,000 available slots. FY 2022 saw significantly fewer applicants with the total nearing 309,000. If you’re applying with a U.S. master’s or higher-level degree, your odds are increased compared to someone applying with a bachelor’s degree. While the number of applicants is to be determined, we anticipate the total number of applicants will exceed 85,000, thus creating the need for the lottery selection.
Q: Can my U.S. employer submit multiple registration entries on my behalf to increase my odds of selection?
A: No. Employers are restricted from submitting multiple registrations for the same person. If this occurs, both or all of the registrations submitted will be void. It is possible, however, for someone to be petitioned by multiple different employers for different positions, so long as each registration is borne from a bona fide job offer.
H-1B status is reserved for professionals with a bachelors or higher degree or foreign equivalent performing a job that requires a degree in a specific field (a “specialty occupation”).
Many years ago, Congress chose 65,000 as the number of new H-1Bs to award each fiscal year. Later, an additional 20,000 H-1Bs were allocated to people who earned U.S. master’s or higher degrees. This combined total of 85,000 is known as the H-1B “cap.” Exceptions exist, but most private-sector employers are subject to it.
Because many more applications for H-1Bs are made each year than the number available, the process turned into a lottery. In 2020, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) installed a new registration system, scrapping the old application process that required employers and immigration practitioners to pre-prepare and mail in all H-1B lottery petitions in the first five business days of April.
Now employers and their legal counsel submit H-1B applicants via an online registration system, which is far less burdensome than the prior application process. This year, registration is open March 1 – March 17. USCIS has announced they intend to notify selected registrants by March 31. H-1B petitions for selected registrants can be filed beginning April 1 and up to 90 days thereafter.