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What is the H-1B lottery? Is the lottery based on the wage? What’s my chance to be selected in the lottery if I have a U.S. Master’s degree?

By February 19, 2021May 20th, 2021H-1B and E-3 Visa
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H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that permits a company to hire workers in specialty occupations.  This visa category requires that the beneficiary (the foreign worker) have a bachelor’s degree, and the petitioner (the U.S. company) can employ the worker for up to six years.

What is the H-1B lottery?

There are a limited number of H-1B petitions that USCIS can adjudicate every year (65,000 Regular Cap petitions and additional 20,000 U.S. Advanced Degree Petitions). Every year, more H-1B registrations than these congressionally mandated amounts are submitted (for example, last year over 275,000 H-1B registrations were submitted) and therefore, the government has to run an H-1B lottery and select 65,000 Regular Cap Petitions & 20,000 U.S. Advanced Degree Petitions. This is called an H-1B lottery.

Is the lottery based on wage levels?

No. In 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) proposed an amendment to the H-1B regulations that would change the process how the H-1B registration are selected in the lottery. Under the new proposed rule, the registrations that would have the highest prevailing wage would be selected first, meaning that the higher your wage is, the bigger chance that you would be selected in the lottery. The new rule was supposed to ne effective on March 9, 2021 (so the 2021 H-1B lottery was supposed to be affected by this rule).

On February 8, 2021, USCIS indicated that the effective day of this rule is December 31, 2021 and the 2021 H-1B lottery will not be run under this new regulation.

This means, that the for the 2021 H-1B lottery, the government will still use a computer-generated random selection process to select the H-1B petitions.

What’s my chance to be selected in the lottery? Do I have a higher chance to be selected if I have a Master’s degree from a U.S. University?

If you have an Advanced degree – Master’s degree or higher (such as PhD or J.D.) from a U.S. University, then your chance to be selected in the H-1B lottery may be higher for the following reason: USCIS first runs the regular lottery and select 65,000 registrations (registrations of beneficiaries who have an Advanced degree from a U.S. University are included in this lottery). USCIS then runs a separate Master’s cap lottery only for the beneficiaries with U.S. Master’s or higher degree. This means, that the registrations of people who have a Master’s degree or higher can be selected in two different lotteries.

USCIS used to run the lottery in the opposite way (they would first run the Master’s cap lottery and then the regular lottery, but changed the system in 2019). USCIS indicated that under the new system, people who have a Master’s degree or higher have an increased chance to be selected of up to 16% than they would have under the old system.

Please click here  to read our Q&A blog post about the 2021 H-1B registration.

Please click here to find out what are the H- B filing fees.

Please click here to read our H-1B questions and answers blog

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