How Does the H-1B Lottery Work?

The H-1B visa is a highly sought-after visa classification for foreign professionals who wish to work in the United States. In 2022, 87,500 individuals were selected to apply for an H-1B visa out of the 308,000 people who registered for the H-1B lottery. Due to the fact that demand exceeds the number of available visas, H-1B hopefuls are required to register for the H-1B lottery in order to be considered. This is a necessary step for anyone who wishes to apply for an H-1B visa in a given year. 

Through the lottery system, prospective applicants are required to register with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) using the Electronic Registration Process. Only basic information is required on the registration form, including general details about the foreign professional and their United States employer. Registration is open for a minimum of fourteen calendar days. For 2023, for example, prospective H-1B applicants may register to start on March 1, 2023, and end on March 17, 2023. 

Once the registration window is closed, the USCIS will carry out the lottery. Individuals from the registration pool are selected at random until the cap, or limit, is reached. It is important to note that lottery selections are determined at random. Individuals are not selected based on when they registered nor is there any objective assessment of merit to determine who gets through the lottery.

Only those selected in the H-1B lottery will be able to apply for a visa. Individuals who are not selected must wait until the following year to register again for the lottery. Moreover, being selected by the H-1B lottery does not automatically mean that a visa will be granted. Rather, it means that the individual is invited to apply for the H-1B visa. Their application will still be evaluated based on eligibility criteria and other requirements, meaning approval is not guaranteed. 

How Can I Check the Results of the H-1B Lottery?

The H-1B lottery is conducted electronically, meaning the results will be available on the registrant’s USCIS online account. The USCIS will notify individuals who were selected in the lottery to file their H-1B petition. The results for the H-1 lottery are typically available shortly after the registration window closes. Either you or your immigration attorney can obtain the results of the H-1B lottery when they are available. 

When you or your attorney checks the results of the H-1B lottery, your USCIS online account will display one of five labels, which relate to the status of your registration. These labels include: 

  • Submitted: registration has been successfully submitted and the individual is eligible for selection in the H-1B visa lottery.
  • Selected: the individual has been selected by the H-1B lottery to submit their application.
  • Not selected: the individual has not been selected by the H-1B lottery to submit their application.
  • Denied: the individual has registered for the visa lottery multiple times and therefore their registration is considered invalid and denied for this fiscal year. It is not possible to appeal a denial. 
  • Invalidated: the individual submitted their registration, but the payment method was declined or otherwise considered invalid.

If a person has been selected by the lottery to apply for an H-1B visa, they can then proceed with the application process. First, their United States employer will be required to submit a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to the United States Department of Labor for certification. The LCA will confirm that your proposed pay is adequate and that the employer will not disparately impact American workers. 

After this step, the employer is invited to submit Form I-129 Nonimmigrant Worker Petition. Once this form has been approved, the applicant may file the Form DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application and eventually attend their visa interview at the appropriate United States embassy or consulate. If their application is successful and they are eligible to receive an H-1B visa, they may begin working on October 1st at the earliest.  

Contact Alcorn Immigration Law Today

Navigating the H-1B lottery can be stressful and daunting. At Alcorn Immigration Law, we work closely with H-1B hopefuls and their employers to navigate the lottery process and, if selected, submit the strongest application possible to optimize their chance of approval. Through our proven method and approach, we have secured successful results for thousands of foreign professionals. With offices in Mountain View, CA, and New York, NY, we have the experience and resources available to ensure that you will feel confident in your legal representation. To connect with an H-1B visa attorney, consider contacting us at +(855) 546-0015 today.