4-4The H-1B immigration lottery is an annual event, akin to a golden ticket for skilled foreign nationals.  The lottery is operated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and only comes around once a year. It's an opportunity for any foreign national who qualifies for an H-1B to be entered into the random selection process. Registrants must be sponsored by an employer looking to hire them. But what if I told you there was a second chance for those who missed out the first time?

The second lottery is a glimmer of hope for those not selected during the first round. Its significance is magnified because it aims to fill any remaining spots not taken in the first lottery. The process itself hasn't seen much change, but the numbers sure have. In 2023, there were 780,884 registrants, a dramatic increase from the 483,927 in 2022, mainly attributed to multiple entries for the same individual. Moreover, rumblings suggest that the lottery system could see a revamp for 2024.

Background of the Lottery
  • How It Works
The lottery process kicks off with an open registration period. Employers can register foreign nationals who meet H-1B requirements. Once the registration window closes, a random selection is conducted by USCIS. There are two caps: the regular cap of 65,000 and an additional 20,000 spots for those with U.S. Master's degrees from nonprofit universities, totaling 85,000 spots. If you're one of the lucky ones selected, your employer must file a petition for your H-1B visa.
  • Purpose and Changes:
The primary goal of this lottery is to pave a pathway for foreign nationals toward a Green Card. An unusual development in 2023 was that the first lottery didn't meet the quota of 85,000 foreign nationals, leading to a second lottery to fill the gap.


Details of the 2nd Lottery
  • The When and Who
    The second round took place on July 29, 2023. Those initially registered in March found themselves eligible for this second chance.
  • Application Process and Unique Aspects
    No changes here—same process, same odds. However, an additional 77,600 people were selected this round, giving hope to many.
  • Results of the Lottery
    Out of the 780,884 registrants in 2023, a total of 188,400 were selected across both lotteries. The uptick in registrants and multiple entries for the same individual led to the necessity of a second lottery.

What This Means for Applicants
  • 3-Aug-30-2023-07-02-05-5349-PMFor the Selected Applicants
If selected and your petition is legit, congrats! You're on track for an H-1B visa.
  • For the Unsuccessful Applicants
If you missed out, your options are limited. You'll have to maintain your nonimmigrant status and potentially wait for another lottery in 2024.
  • Impact on Future Policy

Based on this year's surge in applicants, it's likely that the lottery system will see changes next year. While the second lottery offers a glimmer of hope, it's far from a reliable solution for either employers with urgent staffing needs or for foreign nationals seeking stable employment status. 

In a rapidly evolving landscape, both for employers and those seeking H-1B visas, expert guidance is indispensable. Populus Group and our Immigration legal team have over 20 years of experience in staffing, visa sponsorship, employment law, and compliance. Let us guide you through these choppy waters.

Extra Notes
  • Populus Group's Role
    We assist potential applicants from Student visa to Green Card sponsorship, guiding them throughout the entire lifecycle.
  • Challenges and Future Expectations
    The second lottery isn't without challenges—maintaining status, sticking with your current employer, and the inability to switch employers are among them. However, complete reform could be on the horizon, potentially eliminating the random lottery process altogether.

    It's an interesting time for immigration policy and its effects on both employers and employees. Stay tuned as we keep an eye on how things unfold.