Are You Selected For The H1-B Lottery – How To Find Out

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have announced the completion of the computerized lottery selection of the H1- B petitioners meant to begin work in the US in the fiscal year 2019. This meets both the professional as well as the master’s cap of 85,000 annual petitions. These were chosen from among 190, 098 petitions filed within the first week of April.

How does the H1-B lottery work?

  • The USCIS randomly picks the required number of petitions through a computer-generated program.
  • The selection is done for the 20, 000 Master’s cap first. All unselected names are then put into the bigger pool of 65, 000.
  • A random selection is redone from this final pool to select the mandated 65, 000 petitions.
  • The unselected petitions are then returned along with their filing fees.
    This year 105, 098 petitioners will receive their rejections.
  • Meanwhile USCIS continues to accept petitions that do not fall under this statutory cap.

How to find out if you were selected in the H1-B lottery this year?

In the normal course of events, USCIS offers the option of premium processing wherein the employer can pay an additional fee of $1,440 and get the petition processed expeditiously in two weeks. Due to the heavy backlog lately, USCIS has been suspending this option until the initial workload eases, usually for six months.

Although not in any specific order USCIS has ways of notifying the petitioner whether he got selected in the lottery. Besides premium processing, other ways of knowing if you were selected in the H1-B lottery this year would be –

  • SEVIS Information – The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System maintains information pertaining to non-immigrant students. If you are applying under the Master’s cap and are selected, the SEVIS record will be promptly updated with the H1-B information. The fastest way to know the lottery results.
  • Check Cashed – Each petition is filed along with a fee in the form of a check. If this check is encashed by USCIS, you know you were selected to work in the US. All rejected petitions are returned along with their checks. Learn how much a H1-B petition is charged at H1-B visa fee.
  • H1-B Receipt number – Once the computer-generated lottery selects your name, you are assigned a 13-digit receipt number. This number is notified to your employer via regular mail. While the slowest option, it’s a certified guarantee of your selection for the next fiscal year.
  • I-797 form – Immigration and Naturalization Service sends out a H1B approval notice in the form of Form I-797 which acts as an official documentation. See here for a sample of form I-797.
  • Trackers – While USCIS offers telephonic and online options to check status, one can also track the progress and trend of H1B petitions and approvals at H1B Tracker. This forum allows to share information and learn from other applicants.

If you are selected in this year’s H1-B lottery follow the next steps to set up a H1-B visa interviewand the subsequent steps can be found in H1-B visa guide.