what is hb visa lottery

What is H1B Visa Lottery Process? [Video]

Raghuram Sukumar H1B Visa 7 Comments

In today’s article you find answers to the following questions

  • What is H1B visa lottery
  • What happens during the H1B Lottery process
  • How the USCIS conducts random lottery selection of H1B applications?

Attorney Murali Bashyam answers the above questions in this 3 minute video.

What is H1B Visa Lottery?

Video Transcript

Here’s the Transcript of the Video:

Raghuram Sukumar: Let’s go on to the next question. What is the H1B Visa lottery?

Murali Bashyam: The H1B lottery is not like a regular lottery where you win billions of dollars or whatever, but the lottery is typical, as we have discussed before, the USCIS allows 65,000 regular H1B Visa a year with an additional 20,000 for advanced degree US students.

The earliest you can file an H1B case is April 1st, and if it’s selected and approved, it would be for October 1st start date. The lottery is, let’s say that 110,000 cases are filed on April 1st for a total of 85,000 H1B numbers. What the immigration service typically does, then, is hold this random lottery, and we don’t know how random that actually is, but it holds this random lottery to select 85,000 out of that 110,000 cases. What they do with is they’ll select those 85,000 and then the rest that they don’t select get returned to the employer along with the filing fees.

The lottery used to happen quite frequently a long time ago, and then based on the economy and other issues, we haven’t had a lottery for a number of years until last year. Last year’s the first year we had a lottery in quite some time. For this fiscal year’s H1B cap, the expectation is there will be a lottery. That’s what the lottery is, Raghu. It’s just a random selection process of a number of cases being filed on April 1st Exceeds the number of H1B Visas available.

Raghuram Sukumar: Okay. What happens if the case does not get selected on the lottery?

Murali Bashyam: If the H1B doesn’t get selected in the lottery, the immigration service returns the entire application to the employer along with the immigration filing fees. That’s a question we get quite often. “We’re paying these legal fees, filing fees. What happens to the filing fees if the case doesn’t get selected in the lottery?” The answer is the employer gets that back.

Raghuram Sukumar: They get back the whole package that was mailed?

Murali Bashyam: They get back the entire package that goes to the mall with a sheet on the top of it, saying it was not selected in the lottery along with the filing fees and everything else. It’s unfortunate if that happens considering these employers really need these workers, but that’s what happens to the cases not selected in the lottery.

Related – H1b Visa Lottery Infographics


  1. hi raghu
    That’s a yet another informative article.What can the students with masters degree from US universities do to stay legally and work in US if H1B is not selected by lottery?

  2. Hey Raghu

    My company filed 2 H1 this year .It is possible to get 2 h1..I am not sure about lottery. I think lottery is from company quota or overall.I mean to say if Infy applied for 10000 H1 but they have 7000 cap .then it is lottery for the Infy employee.Please reply if i ma wrong

  3. How long does it take to get the application package back in case it was not selected in the lottery? for both PP and non-PP applications

  4. Dear concerned,
    I gave near about 2600$ along with necessary documents on19 April2015 for h1b visa to an agent.but till now I haven’t got any news rather I am asked always to keep patience till October2016.I am really confused wheather I am in a trap of fraud or should i wait?
    Please help me in this regard.

    1. Author

      You paid for this year’s (2016). Wow. That’s crazy. Why did you do that?

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