Behind the Scenes: Understanding the H1B Visa Lottery System


By Imagility

Share this on:

Table of Contents 

What is the H1B Lottery?
When Did the H1B Lottery Start?
How to Enter the H1B Lottery (Registration Process)?
How Does the H1B Lottery System Work?
How to Increase Chances of Being Selected in the H1B Lottery?
How to Check H1B Lottery Results?
Concluding Thoughts

The H1B lottery is a crucial stage for both petitioners and beneficiaries to move forward toward getting an H1B work visa. This is like a traditional lottery where individuals register and get shortlisted by a random selection process. However, applicants must be aware of some guidelines that could potentially increase the chances of selection in the H1B visa lottery.

Because until you are selected in the first round of H1B lottery registrations, you cannot file an H1B visa petition to get the H1B work visa. It becomes very important to know all the possible factors that could pave the way for you to be selected in the H1B visa lottery.

For instance, you must know when the H1B lottery takes place. How many times does USCIS conduct the H1B lottery in a year? Who can participate in the H1B lottery (petitioner, representative, or beneficiary)? Are you eligible for a regular cap or a master cap? Etc.

Once you understand these things, you will surely get a competitive edge over the others to increase your chances of being selected in the H1B lottery. This blog will delve into these details to ensure you are well-prepared before participating in the H1B visa lottery. Furthermore, we will provide insights into the H1B lottery results, assisting you in determining your H1B lottery status.

Here we go!

What is the H1B Lottery?

The H1B visa lottery is crucial in obtaining the H1B visa issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The H1B visa has a limited cap on the number of petitions, currently set at 85,000. If the USCIS receives more H1B applications than the available cap petitions, it conducts a lottery to select candidates.

For instance, for the fiscal year 2024, the USCIS received 780,884 applications, surpassing the available cap. Consequently, an H1B work visa lottery was conducted to shortlist the candidates.

Typically, the USCIS conducts an initial lottery round to select candidates for filing complete H1B petitions. Unfortunately, some petitioners may face rejection when submitting their complete petitions for various reasons. As a result, H1B visas remain unfilled, prompting the USCIS to conduct a second-round or third-round lottery to allocate the remaining H1B visa caps.

This is only if there are H1B visas available after the completion of the first-round lottery process. This means that the USCIS selects candidates from the initial H1B lottery and notifies them to submit complete H1B petitions using form I-129.

When Did the H1B Lottery Start?

For the first time, the H1B lottery took place in 2008 and then in 2009. After that, there was a continuing gap for 4 years. The H1B lottery situation again rose in 2014, and since then, it has been continuously happening till FY 2024.

How to Enter the H1B Lottery (Registration Process)?

Are you looking for the H1B Lottery registration process? Well, you can enter the H1B lottery through the registration process. Petitioners or their authorized representatives must register electronically on behalf of prospective employees. It is worth noting that employees cannot register themselves. They need a US-based employer who is willing to sponsor an H1B visa. The registration requires basic information about the petitioner and the prospective employee.

For the H1B registration process, follow the steps listed below:

  1. First, go to and click sign in if you already have a USCIS account and fill in the email and password. If you do not have an account, click signup and follow the instructions to create an account.
  2. Once you have signed in, you will come across the “Account type” section. If you are a petitioner, select the option “I am an H1B registrant.” Afterward, click on the “File a registration” option. This will lead you to the H1B registration instructions, which you should carefully review. Finally, locate and click on the “Start” button to proceed.
  3. Following that, you will be directed to a page where you need to provide essential details about yourself and the individual you are registering. Once you have filled in the required information, click the “Save Entry” button. If you have additional beneficiaries, you can add them by clicking on “Add another beneficiary” and then save the entry. This allows you to create a batch submission and include up to 250 beneficiaries in a single batch. If you wish to include more than 250 beneficiaries, you can repeat the entire process to create a new batch of submissions.
  4. Before submitting your registrations, you have the option to review them. During the review process, a “red alert” will indicate any missing information. However, if all the required information is provided correctly, you will see a “green alert,” indicating that you can proceed with the submission.
  5. Next, sign the registration electronically.
  6. You will be required to pay $10 for each beneficiary. Once the payment process is completed, a message will appear on the screen confirming that you have successfully submitted your H1B registration.

You can check the registration status by signing in to your account at any time. You can also download the CSV file of all the beneficiaries to ensure you didn’t submit the H1B registration twice for the same employee.

Once the H1B registration is submitted, you cannot edit it. However, you can delete it without a refund. On the 31st of March, USCIS will notify you if you have been selected. To check this notification, simply sign in to your account and view the message sent by USCIS.

How Does the H1B Lottery System Work?

After USCIS receives more H1B registrations than the available H1B visa caps, it conducts an H1B work visa lottery to shortlist the candidates. Let’s take a closer look at how USCIS conducts the H1B lottery.

  • Initially, USCIS performs the H1B lottery for all H1B registrations to select candidates for the regular cap, which consists of 65,000 visas.
  • Subsequently, another H1B work visa lottery is conducted specifically for the master cap, set at 20,000 visas. This lottery is exclusively for individuals holding a US master’s degree who were not chosen in the regular cap lottery. Consequently, master’s degree holders have two opportunities to be selected in the H1B work visa lottery.
  • Once the H1B lottery is completed, USCIS notifies the selected individuals to submit complete petitions. Those chosen must submit their complete petitions within 90 days of receiving notification from USCIS.
  • USCIS retains the unselected candidates in a reserve pool for the possibility of conducting a second or third round of the H1B visa lottery.

How to Increase Chances of Being Selected in the H1B Lottery?

Increasing the chances of being selected in the H1B lottery is not within an individual’s control, as it is a random selection process. However, there are a few factors to consider that may indirectly influence your chances:

  • Get a US master’s degree: If you have a master’s degree from a US institution, you can participate twice in the H1B visa lottery, first for the regular cap and then for the master’s cap. This gives you an additional opportunity to be selected.
  • Seek a Job with a Cap-Exempt Employer: Some employers, such as universities and certain non-profit organizations, are exempt from the H1B cap. You can bypass the lottery process by securing employment with such an employer.
  • Transfer your H1B status to another employer: If you already have an H1B visa and are now looking to transfer to another employer, you will be exempted from the H1B visa lottery as you were already counted against the H1B visa cap.

Remember, the H1B lottery is a randomized process, and there is no guarantee that you will get shortlisted. Hence, it is recommended that you also look for H1B alternatives to fulfill your dream of living and working in the US.

How to Check H1B Lottery Results?

To check the H1B lottery results, you can follow these steps:

  • Obtain your H1B receipt number: After submitting your H1B petition, your employer or attorney should provide a receipt number. This number is typically sent via email or regular mail and serves as proof that your petition has been received and processed by USCIS.
  • Visit the USCIS Case Status Online Tool: Go to the USCIS Case Status Online page on the USCIS website.
  • Enter your receipt number: On the Case Status Online page, enter your H1B receipt number in the provided field. The receipt number usually starts with three letters, followed by a series of numbers (e.g., EAC-19-123-45678).
  • Click on the “Check Status” button: After you enter the receipt number, click on the “Check Status” button to retrieve your case status information.
  • Review your case status: The USCIS Case Status Online Tool will display the current status of your H1B petition. It will indicate whether your petition has been selected in the lottery, approved, denied, or if additional action is required. If your petition is selected, it will provide further details on the next steps you need to take.

Concluding Thoughts

To enhance the likelihood of being selected in the H1B lottery, it is crucial to examine the aforementioned points thoroughly. Beneficiaries and petitioners must comprehensively understand the H1B visa lottery process to ensure no critical details are overlooked. By remaining well-informed, adequately prepared, and considering all relevant factors, you can optimize your chances of succeeding in the H1B lottery and realizing your objective of obtaining an H1B visa.

Imagility, a comprehensive immigration software solution, offers a collaborative platform for petitioners, attorneys, and beneficiaries to streamline the process of creating well-organized H1B petitions quickly and efficiently. With its wide-ranging support for humanitarian, family, and employment-based visas, Imagility empowers individuals to take control of their future and approach their lives with assurance.

By providing invaluable assistance in navigating the intricate immigration landscape, the platform significantly increases the chances of securing visa approvals. Additionally, the platform supplements the H1B lottery application, contributing to a smoother immigration experience.

Download the app today to embark on a successful immigration journey!

Subscribe for latest blog updates

By submitting this you will be receiving our latest updates on the blogs.

Get Started With Imagility

Save upto 6 hours a day!