Think you are Lucky; Try the H1B Visa!


In a country where casinos are banned, a lot is left to fate it seems. Our government aside, even other governments seem to enjoy this tryst of fate.

Industry experts feel that this year the much sought H1B Visa will be allotted by lottery. From April 1st, US started accepting the applications for Visa for the coming year. There are in all 65000 H1B Visa to be allotted aside from the 20000 Visa that are kept aside for people who have Post-Grad from US University. The number of applications are always more than the 65k number that is available!

h1b visa lottery-001

The lot will be a computerized one and is said to be used only in the case the number of Visa applications are more than the allotted number (65000). It should be of note though that between the year 2001-2003, the Congress did increase the cap to 195000 but this was never reached. Also, this cap of 65k is since two decades now.

The interesting thing though is that Citizenship and Immigration services (USCIS) are predicting that it will take 5 days to fill the necessary number. This means that till April 5th the cap will be filled and lottery will be in place. After that, all the applications are rejected. Also, all the applications that do not get selected in the lottery will lose as well.

Last time this lottery was used was in 2008 when the cap was filled in one day itself. Here is how the table showing how soon the cap was reached every year (April 1st is the starting date for accepting petitions every year)

Year:  H1B Cap Numbers Date H1B Cap Reached
H1B 2003 (FY 2004 cap)  65,000 October 1, 2003
H1B 2004 (FY 2005 cap) 65,000 October 1, 2004
H1B 2005 (FY 2006 cap) 85,000 August 10, 2005
H1B 2006 (FY 2007 cap) 85,000 May 26, 2006
H1B 2007 (FY 2008 cap) 85,000 April 3, 2007
H1B 2008 (FY 2009 cap)   85,000 April 7, 2008
H1B 2009 (FY 2010 cap) 85,000 December 21, 2009
H1B 2010 (FY 2011 cap)   85,000 January 26, 2011
H1B 2011 (FY 2012 cap) 85,000 November 22, 2011
H1B 2012 (FY 2013 cap) 85,000 June 11, 2012
H1B 2013 (FY 2014 cap)   85,000 Filing opens April 1st 2013
Recruitment has started

This brings interesting deductions. One is that the demand for the Visa is definitely reduced and that too by a huge margin. Compare one day to 5. Also, if the cap is increased to around 100,000 we can expect almost everyone who wishes to gets the Visa.

This begs the question why was the limit not reduced to some middle number. Of course, due to recession, US is now interested in getting its own people jobs over Visa owning people from outside. This might be a reason.

The biggest question though is that is lottery a good way to decide who gets the Visa and who doesn’t? What is your take on it?

  1. Sumit Bharti says

    This Lottery is a crap !!!! There are people like me who are applying for H1 B VISA from last three year and everytime i am not able to quality lottery. What is my fault in this. This whole system is a crap.

    I have lost my all faith and believe and end of the day its our Indian Government and Indian companies who are not able to give the benefits and advantages with in India itself that why the person has to think about moving to US at all.

    The Indian Government has to really do something. H1 B cap is the limitation for the Indian Talent which is stopping to go it Global.

    It should be completely based on points + the no of more experience should also matters. There are people in a queue from last so many years and still waiting for there fate :-(

  2. […] if the demand is higher than the visas available, then U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services conduct a lottery (like last year) or select applications on random […]

  3. Ashish says

    I am not sure how you are deducing that demand for H1B visa has reduced. Take a look at your own data:

    Fy 2010 (Global Financial crisis) – visa available for 9 months
    Fy 2011 (peak of GFC) – visa available for 10 months
    Fy 2012 (US recovery anticipated) – visa available for 8 months
    Fy 2013 (US recovery slow but steady) – visa available for 2.5 months
    Fy 2014 (current year) – Visa should be exhausted in 1st week (predicted).

    What this data tells you is that US work visa market is forward looking and is a type of predictor of US Economy and demand for H1 workers. This is quite a high quality data because it is directly related to the job creation (particularly in the IT sector and other high skill category).

    Also USCIS is required by law to allow 5 days of filing regardless of whether the cap is reached or not. Hence the need for lottery to shortlist 65,000 + 20,000 valid candidates. The lottery system is a reasonable one, because trying to shortlist 65K valid applications in a very short amount of time using any other process is quite expensive and USCIS clearly doesn’t have that kind of manpower or resources.

    The only other option I can think of is H1B process reform and make it a point based system. That way you can choose highest point candidates and leave the rest.. of course lot of other details including the cut off etc would have to be worked out.. it won’t be easy.

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      @Ashish Thanks for the comment

      Obviously a lot depends on market conditions in US… But I fully agree on the last point that you made. H1B visa should be granted on points system. And actually their should be no cap, as long as they have a US employer who is inviting them over.

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