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H1B Lottery Process, Annual Cap, Registration, and Result Dates

H1B Lottery Process

The H-1B lottery process begins with an online registration which is done by the employer (that's where an employee needs sponsorship). After that, USCIS performs a random selection process (called the H1B lottery) from the applications that are received.

If selected, the employer is notified and files an H-1B petition (Form I-129). Further, if USCIS approves the petition, the employee can start working in the US under H-1B status from the beginning of the fiscal year, which is October 1.

  • H-1B lottery is conducted once a year, typically in March, to select 85,000 registrations.

  • The registration period is only two to three weeks.

  • The second lottery is conducted if the H1B cap is not met.

  • There is no company or country-level cap for H1B applications.

Table of contents: H1B Lottery Process

What is an H1B Lottery?

Meaning: The H-1B visa program allows U.S. companies to hire and employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

Due to the high demand for H-1B visa applications, the USCIS uses a random selection process called the H1B lottery to select the H-1B applications. The following table shows the H1B annual cap.

The following chart shows the top 10 companies by the number of applications approved. You can also find the complete details on the USCIS website. In the year 2024, Amazon, Infosys, and TCS were amongst the top companies that got H1Bs approved.

H1B Lottery Chances

The probability or chances of getting selected in the H1B lottery have been reduced to 17.71% in FY 2025, compared to over 50% a decade ago. This is calculated based on the total H1B annual cap limit of 85,000.

In FY 2024, the situation was even worse, with chances around 10% of applicants' names selected in the lottery. This means only 1 out of 10 applications was selected.

The following chart shows how the probability of H1B lottery selection has gone down in the past 15 years.

H1B Lottery Dates

As mentioned earlier, H1B lottery registration is typically open in March and often closes in two to three weeks. The previous deadline for H1B lottery registration was March 25th, 2024. You can refer to the USCIS website for the latest registration dates.

After the initial selection in the lottery, USCIS notifies the employer to file the complete I-129 petition with supporting documents, which has a deadline of June.

The initial number of selections was 120,603 for FY 2025, which is higher than the H1B annual limit of 85,000, and this does not mean that your I-129 will get approved 100%. Your I-129 application can still be denied to meet the H1B annual limit.

The following table shows how the number of H-1B registrations has increased over the past several years.

H1B Lottery Process

Below are the 7 steps for the H1B lottery process:

  1. Registration Period: Employers register their respective H1B candidates with USCIS.

  2. Lottery Selection: USCIS conducts a random selection process if registrations exceed the annual quota of 85,000.

  3. Selection Notification: Employers and applicants are notified if their registration is selected. 🎉

  4. I-129 Petition: Employers then file the I-129 petition for the selected applicants.

  5. Processing and Approval: USCIS reviews the petitions and may request additional evidence.

  6. Approval or Denial: USCIS approves or denies the I-129 petition.

  7. Work Authorization: If approved, applicants receive work authorization for the specified period.

FAQs on the H1B Lottery Process

How many times you can apply for the H-1B lottery?

There is no specific limit on how many times an individual can apply for the H-1B lottery. However, each fiscal year (FY), an employer can submit one registration per employee.

What is the success rate of the H-1B lottery?

For fiscal year 2025 which is starting on October 1st, the selection rate was 17.71%. Roughly 1 out of 5 applications got selected.

What is the deadline for H1B lottery registration?

Typically, the H1B lottery registration deadline is in March. For FY 2025, the initial registration period began on March 6th and ended on March 25th.

What is the I-129 petition deadline after a successful H1B lottery?

Typically, the I-129 petition deadline is June end. Employers get approximately 90 days (April 1st to June 30th) to complete the documentation process for the I-129 petition.

What is the H1B lottery registration fee?

The H1B lottery registration fee is $10.

When does USCIS release H1B lottery results?

USCIS typically releases the H1B lottery results by March end. For FY 2025, USCIS released results on March 27th.

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