What is H1B Lottery System? New in April 2019 – H1B 2020 Season

Written by Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta          Updated  3 Jun, 19

Update June 3, 2019 – USCIS Returning Applications

USCIS has started returning the H1B applications that were not selected in H1B 2019-2020 lottery. Your H1B filing fees will be returned too. Premium processing fees will be refunded for un-selected cases.

If you have not received your receipt number by now, you can assume that your application was not selected.

H1B Premium processing selected cases can expect their H1B approval by June 4th. Approximately, 25% of H1B applications are denied every year and hence USCIS accepts more applications than can be approved. Check H1B denial rates for IT consulting companies like Cognizant.

If you did not file in premium processing and have a receipt number now, your employer can upgrade to premium processing on or after May 20th as long as your petition requested a change of status.

Earlier on April 22, 2019, USCIS started sending notifications to people with the H1B receipt numbers for cases selected in April 2019 lottery. The premium applications with change of status started getting lottery selection notices on April 15, 2019.

Steps After H1B Lottery – Chances of H1B Rejection, Approval

USCIS lottery selection process was completed on Apr 11, 2019 with 201,011 H-1B petitions  including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption.

H1B Lottery System starting April 2019

DHS used the new “Merit based” in H1B April 2019 lottery system.

  1. Online H1B registration suspended for H1B 2020 season
    Online Registration will be first tested and start from next year i.e. April 2020.
  2. H1B Lottery Draw April 2019
    You have to file normal regular paper based H1B application starting 1 April 2019.

H1B Lottery favors US Master Degree in April 2019

As per USCIS testing, the proposed process would result in an estimated increase of up to 16 percent (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected H-1B with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.

To achieve this, USCIS plans to reverse the order of lottery draw:

  1. First run the lottery for 65K from the entire pool of H1B applications and then run it for 20k US degree holders.
  2. Then, those applicants with advanced degrees that did not get selected in the first round would move into a second round, where 20k additional visas would be awarded.

Indian Masters Degree H1B Lottery

H1B applicants, who are primarily from India and China should be aware of this change in H-1B cap rule system which would potentially reduce chances of selection for people with non-“U.S.” Master or Higher Degrees in FY 2020 cap season.

As per QZ analysis, new proposed H1B Lottery does favor US masters degree holders. The effect has been tested on last couple of years H1B lottery too.
This proposed system will further reduce the chances of Bachelor degree holders for a selection in lottery.

Year / Chances of Selection in H1B LotteryUS Masters degree holdersOthers (Like India / China Degree holders)
201851% (current system) → 55% (proposed system)38% → 34%
201741% → 43%30% → 28%
201642% → 45%31% → 28%
201556% → 61%43% → 38%
201474% → 84%63% → 52%

The proposed rule is still not finalized and hence, may or may not be implemented in April 2019 for H1B season starting Oct 1, 2019 (H1B 2020 season).

The USCIS director Cissna has given interviews at various occasions to signal that they indeed want this new system to be used starting April 2019.

UnSelected H1B Applicants Can Get Second Chance

Un-selected H1B applications would remain on waiting list in the same H1b season. If USCIS needs to increase the number of registrations projected to meet the regular cap or advanced degree exemption, USCIS would select from waiting list. USCIS may also re-open the registration period (will be announced separately) if additional registrations are needed to meet the new projected amount.

Submit Multiple Registration for Same H1B worker?

As the electronic registration system is not applicable for H1B cap Season 2020, the electronic system details will be updated as and when it is published by DHS and USCIS.

Source: Federal Register

   2 Useful Questions & Answers from comments

  1. T S Srinivasa
    T S Srinivasa 8 May, 19 at 8:37 pm

    How to know the status of h1b visa for 2019


    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 9 May, 19 at 5:20 am

      Do you mean the lottery result? Then, you need to wait until you receive the receipt number or the H1B application package is returned to you.

      I have given the timelines for steps after H1B lottery here.


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