H1b lottery 2020
H1b lottery 2020

US will finally re-open the much anticipated new H1B quota on April 1st, 2019. As is the case over the last few years, the quota will be maxed out in a couple of days. As a refresher, US issues 65K H1B visas for foreigners and an additional 20K H1B visas for students who completed masters in the USA.

From 2014 this cap has been consistently hit by around April 5th – April 7th


As reflected in the bar graph above, due to the “Buy American Hire American” executive order, the number of received H1B applications have reduced, however, it still remains much higher than the 85K cap.

How does the US select the H1B applications?

One word answer – Lottery!!

Here is how the lottery system works:

  • The computer selects 20K applicants who have petitioned for an advanced masters degree. If there are more than 20K applications, the remaining are transferred over to the 65K cap.
  • A second computer draw is done for the 65K cap. In this cap, Masters and non-Masters applicants compete.
  • It is important to note that 6,800 spots are reserved for citizens of Singapore and Chile.
  • Also previously approved H1B applications and cap-exempt applicants are not part of this quote.
  • The lottery is completely random and no further logic is applied – like salary requirements, country of origin, company name, etc.
  • The computer selects 20K applicants who have petitioned for an advanced masters degree. If there are more than 20K applications, the remaining are transferred over to the 65K cap.
  • A second computer draw is done for the 65K cap. In this cap, Masters and non-Masters applicants compete.
  • It is important to note that 6,800 spots are reserved for citizens of Singapore and Chile.
  • Also previously approved H1B applications and cap-exempt applicants are not part of this quote.
  • The lottery is completely random and no further logic is applied – like salary requirements, country of origin, company name, etc.

To avoid H1B application limits, you need to have a masters degree from a US-based institution – either public or private. Another way to apply in the exemption category is to apply for jobs in non-profit organizations or higher education learning sectors.

While you apply for the H1B visa, here are a few things to remember

  • USCIS is known to deny or revoke duplicate petitions. So do not try to flood the system with multiple entries.
  • Your employer should be able to demonstrate to USCIS that they have the ability to run payrolls and have the ability to pay and beat prevailing wages of that city/state.
  • Do not forget signatures in the H1B application along with accurately inputting addresses which will be used for future correspondence.
  • It is a myth that by applying for premium processing you get the upper hand in the lottery system. As mentioned earlier, the lottery system is truly random.
  • It’s always advisable to apply in an occupation that matches your degrees. Although this is not a hard rule, it definitely helps in getting the application approved in an expedited way.
  • H1B application and lawyer fees must be borne by the employer. It is illegal for the employer to pass these costs to the employee.
  • It is advantageous to go with an immigration lawyer who has experience in this field as they know how to fill out the documentation accurately.

Here are the fees associated with H1B applications

  • The petition filing fee for I-129 form is $460.
  • As per the consolidated appropriations act, an additional public law fee of # 4,000 is applied to all employers who have more than 50 H1B employees on their payroll.
  • The premium processing fee is $ 1,140.
  • Lawyer expenses are on top of these and will vary depending on the organization.
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