Last year (2020 | FY2021) USCIS ran the lottery electronically for the first time. For the season, the agency received 275,000 registrations for 85,000 available H-1B visas for the year. The year before, USCIS 201,011 petitions for the lottery.
If last year's numbers are anything to go by, here's what your chances to get picked in the lottery look like -
Chances of getting selected
Of the 275K registration, approximately 46% beneficiaries last year had advanced degrees (Master's and PhD) from U.S. Universities. These employees have a special quota of 20K (out of 85K). So they get two chances at lottery selection thereby improving their chances slightly.
Employees without an advanced degree from the U.S. - If you are in this category, you have about 24% chance of selection at the lottery.
Employees with an advanced degree from the U.S. - If you are in this category, you have about 39% chance of getting picked in the lottery.
Are there one or two rounds of lottery?
There is generally just one round of lottery. But given that USCIS tried a new format of lottery registration in 2020 and the pandemic meant that USCIS wasn't able to fill out all the visas in round 1 and so ran another lottery later in the year to fill the 85,000 slots. There is a possibility of there being two rounds of lottery in 2021 as well since we are not over the pandemic period yet.
With that sorted, let's take a look at the whole process - from applying to the lottery to successfully starting on the H-1B visa. But first let's tackle some myths that you'll hear from your friends or colleagues or may see on the immigration forums.
Would Trump's H-1B travel ban effect the lottery numbers?
President Trump's travel ban for H-1B is still in effect until March 31, 2021. Assuming that the Biden administration will let the ban expire at the end of March, we expect that USCIS will receive the same number of applications this year. Now, given the pandemic and the reduced job rate, might have some effect on the number but we don't expect it to put a considerable dent in the 275K number nor significantly increase the above mentioned chance percentages.
Nevertheless, we wish you good luck for the lottery!
Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult a WayLit-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.