How to Improve Your Odds in the H-1B Lottery


By Paul Szeto LLC

The annual H-1B cap lottery will kick off on March 1, 2023.  The number of registrations has increased drastically in the past three years to 483,927 in FY 2023.  On the other hand, the percentages of the total number of selections have decreased every year to 26.37% in FY 2023.  As the expectation of a recession looms, some mega tech firms have announced layoffs recently, which may signal a reduction in the number of total registration this year. However, given the limited number of available H-1B cap visa numbers, competition will likely remain intense. 

The following are some tips to improve the odds of getting selected in the H-1B lottery:
1) Apply as early as possible:  If you have already secured a job offer and ready to enter the lottery, do not delay.  Immediately work with your employer and attorney to review and organize all documents and information to resolve any issues.  Employer should create a USCIS account on 2/21 or as soon as possible. Similarly, do not delay in entering your registration on the system.  System glitches and other technical issues may prevent users from entering their registrations at the last minute.
2) Enter multiple registrations:  If you have received multiple job offers from different employers, encourage them all to register you in the H-1B lottery to increase the odds for selection.  It is illegal for the same employer or related employers to enter the same employee in the system. However, there is nothing wrong with multiple registrations if each of them represents a legitimate job offer.  
3) Double, triple check everything:  The worst thing that can happen to an H-1B candidate is that, although selected in the lottery, she is not able to obtain H-1B status because of a typo or technical error.  Common issues include wrong employer ID number, mismatch of educational level, missing of filing deadline, unqualified degree, etc. Unfortunately, USCIS is not likely to forgive technical errors, regardless of how harmless or sympathetic they may be.  If possible, ask to review the applications and documents. Do not completely trust your employer or attorney.
4) Apply under advanced degree:  There is an additional 20,000 visa numbers for candidates who've earned a U.S. advanced degree.  Even if you've not completed the degree yet, you may still qualify if you are able to obtain proof of completion by the time the H-1B petition is filed (which is a few months after registration). However, the degree must be a qualified one. 
5) Maintain lawful status:  Failure to maintain one's lawful status could result in denial of your H-1B status and/or visa.  Double check with your DSO or attorney regarding the F-1 student visa requirements as well as the OPT practical training requirements.  Follow all requirements and deadlines.  If you qualify for STEM OPT, apply as early as possible. Do not assume that, once you are selected in the H-1B lottery, you do not need to maintain your status.  
6) Double-check the legitimacy of your employer:  This may sound silly, but there are unscrupulous individuals and employers out there who prey on the needs of foreign students.  Confirm that your sponsor has real and ongoing business operations.  Do not pay agents or employers for them to enter you in the H-1B lottery. 
7) Watch out for 2nd or 3rd drawing:  For FY 2021 and 2022, USCIS conducted a second and third drawing to select additional cases for processing. There was only one drawing last year, probably due to the drawing of a sufficient number of selections in the first draw. A second and third drawing may be available this year.  Hence, do not give up if you are not selected in the first draw. Keep in contact with your employer and attorney. 


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