HSB 006 : Is It Not Risky to Study in USA When H1B Visa is Not 100% Guaranteed?

Raghuram Sukumar Podcast 33 Comments

Is it risky to study Masters Degree from USA when H1B visa is not guaranteed due to H1B Visa Lottery? That was the question from Naveen.

Here’s the actual question

With the lottery system of H1B, how can we take a bold step and pursue Masters Degree from America?
I am confident that I can perform well in a job interview and get a good job and good grades. But if H1B is not confirmed then we can effectively work only 29 months.
Why then are people going forward with MS in USA?
Making me rethink my MS plan totally. Please offer some perspective here. Isn’t it risky?

Risk vs H1B Visa

It’s a valid question. All students, their parents will ask the same the questions 1000’s of time before committing to spend thousands of dollars or taking our  eduction loan to study in America.

H1B Visa 2015 was issued based on application selected via random lottery selection. H1b Lottery is expected even this H1B Visa 2016 season as well.

So, there’s some uncertainty among students and parents about investing boat loads of money ( 10 to 30 lakhs ).

FACT : Majority of Indian students decide to study in U.S.A. depending on U.S. Economy and job market. We have seen that time and time again.

why indian students come to usa

U.S. Economy Affects Indian Students Coming to U.S.A.

Above data is from Student Mobility Report from WES.

In today’s show, I wanted to take a different way to look at the same problem and provide solution based on some factors that is often overlooked.


Listen to the Show


  1. Hi,
    Raghu Sir,
    Thanks for your post. Its really helpful for me and i hope for other students to set ultimate targets while studying in US.
    Bless u.
    Moid khan

  2. @ OP (Naveen):
    I guess you forgot 1 big thing, when you apply for study in USA, the most important thing is you are declaring that you don’t intend to work in the USA. Student visa rules are crystal clear, study and go home.

    I do understand that it’s a practical question, but if a person is thinking of getting a H1B visa after studying in USA, you are misrepresenting on your J visa application.

    I think 29 months give a person a fair enough chance to get a H1B and the diabolical case is you get atleast what you said you want (at the time of applying for J visa)

    1. Author

      H1B lottery is Random. It’s like picking from a hat. IT doesn’t take education or qualification into account.

      1. +1
        I like the lottery thing as it leaves the candidate qualification work to companies. There is no reason for govt to invest their resources in picking candidate A over B.

  3. Dear brother,
    This post is simply one of your best. The podcast is truly amazing. I will leave to San Antonio this coming April to pursue my Masters in Electrical Engg in UTSA. I have about Rs.30Lakh in education loan and was too depressed sometimes when I think of it. I know that the experience that I will gain is far more important. One of my uncles, after working for so many years in an MNC, recently completed his MS from NUS and told me that the education system and experience which we will gain in foreign Universities is outstanding. I have tried not to worry about the money matters ever since.

    This podcast reassured the same. You told all the things, and more, that he told me and you told them truthfully from your heart. The quote you mentioned was great and added more life to the podcast. I will spread the word.

    Lots of love,


  4. I want to thank you for this blog. I am a Nigerian though, setting out to start my Masters at Brandeis (Boston) this Fall. what visa category is the H1B you were referring to? Is it applicable to someone with an F1 Visa from Nigeria? Kindly shed light on that aspect for me.


  5. Raghu, Thanks for all your help!!!
    I have a question on the probability of getting through the lottery this year for master’s quota? I know we cant predict the number of applications this year, but based on last year’s 172,000 applications everyone’s predicting around 250,000 this year.

    1. Author

      I’m not expecting 250,000 H1B visa applications 🙂 but predicting lottery.

      1. 🙂 so based on last year’s numbers, can you estimate a percentage of getting picked in lottery? (masters) I saw in previous comments you mentioned 40% chance(thinking that’s for regular?).

  6. Dear Raghu…
    I am regular follower of your posts & the content is worth going through…. i am an middle class person & want ur guidance, as my son has completed his B.Tech in 2014 & now he is working for an MNC but he has a dream/goal that he will pursue his masters in US….he has already given his GRE & TOEFEL (310 & 109) marks respectively…. & he his planning for Fall-16…kindly suggest…..

  7. Raghuram as a graduate student about to graduate your post has given me a bigger picture on studying in the US and making money your ultimate goal will lead you nowhere. What you explained on how it shapes your personality and how mature you become is spot on. Thank you, belated wishes.

  8. Hi Raghuram,

    Thanks for the audio session. In the audio, you have talked about that one gets a chance to apply for H1B thrice post MS completion.
    Can you please elaborate on that?

  9. Hi Raghu,

    I have been an ardent follower of Happy Schools Blog, and I would congratulate you on the excellent content that’s been posted. I share the same views, we all need to take that bold step and step out of our comfort zones. Having worked in India for 7 years , I was on quite a good position in my organization, however I have always had this inherent dream and desire to get an educational experience in North America. I pursued the same and today I am enrolled in University of Western Ontario Canada for my PhD in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. The feeling of having taken a step towards your dream is worth all the risks, the experience gained is invaluable. I was chided a lot by my friends and family for taking this bold step, but hey as you said ” the purpose of a ship is not to be anchored at the shore” , we all have to take the plunge. Once dived, we all learn to swim. Thank you. – Ashish K.

    1. Author

      WOW Ashish. Congrats. It takes ton of Courage to study abroad after 7 years in industry. I would love to have you on a show, would you like to share your journey? It will go very well with this episode?

  10. Dear Raghu,
    I agree with your thoughts on keeping long term vision. The rewards in the long run should be given priority over the short term benefits.

    And here is wishing you belated happy birthday.

  11. Mr. Sukumar you’ve got it absolutely right. You adressed the concerns of the students and also enlightened them with what should be the main motive behind planning to get a U.S. degree. Thank You.

  12. I guess, H1B visa is for those who want to work in the US. What does that have to do with studying in the US?

    1. Author

      See the statistics I have posted. Indian student’s tend to come to US only if they can get a job and H1B Visa. H1B is now given via lottery. So, even if you have a job and don’t get H1b visa, you have to go back to India. Someone with 30 lakhs loan can’t afford to go back to India and pay the loan when companies in India would pay them like Rs50,000 per month. That’s the RISK part of this question from Naveen.

  13. This is my first text to you.
    Hi Raghu,

    Glad to see such a big step taken by you for the Indian candidates including me.
    I am going to give GRE for the 1st time on June,2015 Last week.
    “Can you please help me setting a goal to go for a best career in US for doing MS in CS.
    What should i concentrate on.” I just heard your H1B Visa episode and i used to think exactly the same which you have explained in the same.
    My eyes are really open and better ideas starting to aggravate in my mind. 🙂
    Plz reply to my question in quotation mark.
    AND HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY.. God bless you..


    1. Author

      Right now, you have to do just 3 things.

      1. Prepare for GRE.
      2. Start learning about universities.
      3. Read HSB daily 🙂

  14. Yes! This recording is correct and I believe you have touched the heart of the matter in anybody choosing to study in US. You are having soo much difficulty in explaining this but that difficulty is in correct sense. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK HSB!!! Sooo Proud of being a part of HSB !!!

    1. Author

      @Manu – I know it’s difficult and sensitive topic. You go to consultant and they just paint a rosy picture about aid, money and visa. I speak the facts and reality.

  15. I listened to the show “Risk vs H1B Visa”. It is superb. My son has gone to US for doing his masters. He is presently in his final semester. As a father, I admire what you have said and agree to every word of it.

    1. Author

      I’m so glad you like the show. Especially hearing such feedback from a parent is good.

  16. Good One Raghu! People need to realize why they want to go for higher studies. There is always a risk and not everyone will take it ! Couldn’t agree more!

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