Will there be a second H-1B Lottery?
Updated: Oct 12, 2021
UPDATE on OCT 12, 2021 -
USCIS announced that it received 308,613 H-1B registrations for FY2022 cap lottery. The agency initially selected 87,500 registrations to reach the numerical allocations.
On July 29, 2021, the agency conducted a second selection of an additional 27,717 registrations.
This resulted in a total of 115,217 selected registrations.
USCIS announced on March 30, 2021 that they have informed all the employers of the foreign national employees that were selected in the 2021 (cap year 2022) H-1B lottery.
We have fielded many questions from employees that were on the losing side of this random game of luck and wanted to share some of those answers publicly.
There may NOT be a second lottery
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but allow us to explain some of the reasons as to why there was a second lottery last year and why there might not be one this year -
Reason 1: Pandemic - Right as the lottery selection was being announced, a lot of companies were going bust and laying off people. Some of those people were employees who had been selected for the lottery but now their companies could not file for the H-1B petition thus reopening those seats. We assume that this number would have been comparatively small.
Reason 2: Executive Order - President Trump signed an executive order in June, 2020 that would ban any new H-1B visas to be issued at the U.S. embassy. This resulted in a lot of consulting and staffing companies from brining people into the U.S. and so reopening more H-1B seats. We assume that this number would have been relatively higher.
Both these conditions are no longer applicable this year and so there might not be a second lottery in 2021.
What about the people who applied with registrations through multiple employers?
We have heard (although there isn't any proof) about people registering multiple times for the lottery using different employers. Even if we take this into consideration, there is no way that there will be more than a few hundred of these cases. So, even if USCIS were to run another lottery, the chances of selection are slim.
What are my chances of getting picked in the second lottery?
Let's do some quick mental math to see what are your chances in the second run -
Total number of H-1B application (assumption) = 300,000
Total number of H-1B seats = 85,000
People not awarded H-1B = 215,000
People who filed duplicates (stretched assumption) = 5,000
People who would not file H-1B petition until June (stretched assumption) = 10,000
So, if USCIS runs the lottery again, chances of getting picked ~ 7% (= 15K/215K). For those with a U.S. master's or higher degree, chances will be a little more.
When will the second lottery take place?
If we were to go anything by last year's timeframe then the second lottery will take place in July - August. The employers will get email notifications about the employees that were selected and no alerts for those who did not make it.
My status still says "Submitted" and "Not Selected". Why?
Your status with USCIS will show "Submitted" until the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2021. On October 01, 2021 the status will change to "Not Selected", which means that there are no more H-1B seats available for the fiscal year.
If I go back to my home country, can my employer file an H-1B for me next year?
Yes. Your employer can apply for the H-1B lottery with your name even if you are not in the U.S.
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.