Your 2020-2021 Comprehensive Guide to the H1B Visa Lottery System

Posted by Harry Tapias on February 3, 2020

H1B Visa Lottery System

Companies seeking to fill specialized positions with overseas candidates will need to continue updating their approaches. The road to US employment for foreign nationals is becoming more competitive.

In 2019, more than 200,000 people applied for an H-1B visa for skilled workers. Out of that number, only 85,000 were accepted, making the selection rate just 42.5%.

As the US economy continues to improve, competition for spots will continue to grow in 2020.

To provide a fair selection system, an annual “lottery” is held to award visas to companies who register as part of the program. In order to participate and secure the best chance for winning visa slots for your organizations, consult our comprehensive guide to the H1B Visa lottery system.


Q) When is the registration period and what should employers be doing before registration opens?

This year employers must register their candidates from March 1st to March 20th to participate in the FY2021 H1B lottery


Q) What information do I need to have ready when registering for the lottery?

Employers must provide the following:

  • The organization’s legal name
  • Any names your organization does under “Doing Business As” (if applicable)
  • Your Employer identification Number (EIN)
  • The primary officed address of your organization (address must be located in the United States )
  • Your organization’s contact person (authorized signatory) will need to provide their legal name, title, and contact information (daytime phone number and email address).


Potential candidate must provide the following:

  • The candidate’s legal name
  • Their gender  
  • Their degrees and certificates from education institutions (if the candidate possesses a masters degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education, they are eligible for the advanced degree exemption under INA 214(g)(5)(C)). Consider applying for this if it applies!
  • The candidate’s date of birth  
  • Their country of birth 
  • Their country of citizenship 
  • A valid passport number  


Q) How much background information for the "specialty occupation" eligibility do I need to provide?

In order to analyze whether a specialty occupation qualifies, employers and candidates must provide a detailed job description that is aligned to the candidate’s professional education. Be as detailed as possible!


Q) How could the new changes affect the volume of petitions that are filed?

The changes may increase the volume of petitions since it is much easier process for organizations to apply for the lottery thanks to the new digital application system.


Q) If selected, how much time will be allowed to prepare the finalized H-1B petition?

Once selected, 90 days are provided to file the H1B petition.


Q) How should employers prepare for the possibility that the USCIS suspends the digital registration process and reverts to the paper submission system?

Consider preparing a paper version as a backup in the event of a system reversal.


Q) How will an expiring OPT affect employees who apply for cap-gap protection?

It is important to check when the candidate’s OPT expires. If an OPT expires during the registration period, the candidate may not be eligible for a cap-gap extension.


Q) How should any attorney-client engagement change to accommodate the new regulations?

In order to limit your risk and increase lottery changes, consider one of the following options:

  1. Prepare a Paper Application

Pay 100% of attorney fees up front to ensure the entire petition is completed and submitted during the March registration period. In the event the digital registration system is suspended, make sure normal paper petitions have been prepared.

  1. Trust the Digital Registration System

Trust that the H1B registration tool will not be canceled and pay only a $10 registration fee.  If your organization is selected, THEN pay attorney fees to prepare the H1B petition within the 90-day filing period.

  1. Prepare a Two-Fold Approach 

Pay an attorney to prepare just the LCA (Labor Condition Application) before March 1st.  This will help in the event that the digital registration system is suspended. At least you will have the necessary documents in case the traditional system goes back into effect.


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Topics: H1B Visa, Immigration Law