So the predictions have come true for H1B Visa season in April 2013 (also known officially with the USCIS as FY2014 as the H1B visas once awarded take effect on October 1, 2013 which is the start of the 2014 Financial Year for immigration).
In the first five days between April 1-5, 2013, the USCIS received 124,000 applications. The problem is there are only nominally 85,000 H-1B visas available of which 20,000 are allocated under the Advanced Degree Exemption for foreigners who complete a graduate degree at an accredited US University. Also some of those H-1B visas are reserved for H-1B1 visas for Chilean and Singaporian nationals under respective Free Trade agreements with US although this number tends to be very small an no more than a couple of thousand annually. It should be noted that most non-profit, education related and government employers don’t have their successful H-1B applicants count against the 85,000 cap. Nor do prior approved H-1B visa transfers or renewals count against the current cap.
So the dreaded H-1B Visa Lottery has come true for 2013. This is the first time since 2008 there has been an H-1B visa lottery and only the third one ever after 2007 and 2008. Both those years had greater number of applications with over 190,000 and 160,000 respectively. So this year based purely on numbers, assuming your application and employment is all fine as well as you as the candidate you would seem to have a 75% chance of having your application assessed and hopefully then approved. There is also a portion of junk applications as well so your chances might be even better than that and certainly better than H1B candidates in 2007 and 2008.
However this is not an easy time for H1B applicants, their family and friends and even their employers. This highlights all that is wrong with the current US Immigration policy where high qualified candidates who will help the US economy as has repeatedly been proven in studies could be sent home when there is over abundance of need and shortage of supply of local candidates.
Note this should not be confused with the Green Card Lottery which is a true lottery based almost exclusively on luck and awards about 55k Green Cards annually to those that enter.
Good luck to all the H-1B applicants in 2013!