What is H1B Lottery and how is it operated ?

Dear Saurabh,

It appears USCIS may resort to lottery for selecting the H1B-2014 petitions for adjudication.

I am employed while on post completion (12 Month) OPT and my employer is filing H1B petition on 1 April as anounced. I have the following queries.

What is the lottery system and how is it operated? Are all the H1B petitions are pooled for selection irrespective of date of filing ? What are the chances of selection of petitions of canadidates (speciality) qualified fronm US Universities

In the event of non.selection of a petition for processing , does it mean the candidate is denied H1B status ?

I have also made application for 17-month OPT extension with USCIS as I am qualified under STEM.category. Will it be processed simultaneouly or will be on hold ?

Request you to please clarify and advise.



Let’s say USCIS received 30K Master’s cap petitions, and 80K non-Master’s cap petitions. USCIS will accept all petitions for the first 5 days even if the cap is reached earlier.

Then they will randomly select 20K petitions from Master’s cap. The remaining 10K will be added to non-Master’s cap to make the count 90K. They will then select 65K from those 90K petitions. All remaining petitions will be returned along w/ he fees, everynone else will be considered to be part of the cap. They will accept few extra petitions to accomodate for the ones that will get denied, withdrawn etc.

If petition is not selected it is equivalent to have never applied H-1 at all. Your H-1 and OPT extension can happen in parallel, but if H-1 gets approved they might deny the OPT extension or approve it for a shortened term.

Regarding lottery, I found this in the official webside of USCIS:

"If necessary, USCIS will apply a random selection process to all petitions received [b]on the date[/b] when a sufficient number of petitions have been received to reach the applicable numerical limit (“final receipt date”) for cap-subject H-1B, H-2B and H-3 petitions regardless of whether Premium Processing Service is requested. "

To my understanding that say until the cap is not reached, the petitions filed will not be considered for lottery. If the cap is reached e.g. on day#4, only the petitions filed on that day will be considered for lottery to fill up the cap. Those filed on day#1/2/3 will not.

Can anybody confirm that?

That sounds like a good point and I hope that is the case for alls benefit :slight_smile:

Suppose they select the required number with lottery. Some of these would eventually get rejected in the process. Will they select more petitions to fill these numbers?

Nopes. I mean usually this doesn’t happen. The remaining quota seats goes in for next year’s auction :wink:

Hi Saurabh,

Will the number of applications from a company have any effect on the lottery at all? Is it possible that some companies do not get a single application picked in the lottery?

Say they receive 20% excess applications, would the computer algorithm be then tweaked to select only 80% from all the companies that applied? Or the lottery would apply to the applications received individually?

Sorry could you please elaborate on “Next year’s auction”?

The number of seats vacated due to the rejected petitions will be added up to the next year quota of 65000.

I found this on the uscis site - from 2008, though:

“USCIS has “wait-listed” some H-1B petitions, meaning they may possibly replace petitions chosen to receive an FY-2009 cap number, but that subsequently are denied, withdrawn, or otherwise found ineligible. USCIS will retain these petitions until a decision is made whether they will replace a previously selected petition. USCIS will send a letter to the wait list petitioners to inform them of their status”