I have generally tried to write a post very second day but I felt compelled today to share something I read today (in addition to my own thoughts) on another US Visa information blog written by a lawyer. His name is Jacob J. Sapochnick and is a San Diego based Immigration Lawyer.
Anyway the H1B Visa lottery is a system devised because in recent years, the 65,000 visas there are available have been oversubscribed with eligible candidates. Thus a lottery system was devised to sort out the lucky candidates from the unlucky ones. Additionally the 20,000 extra visas available for holders of US Masters Degrees have also become oversubscribed and thus it has undergone a lottery system too.
Each year on April 1, applications are able to be sent to the USCIS and in last couple of year over 100,000 applications have been received on the first day alone. October 1st is the first day a winning candidate can actually start to work that same year under the H1B visa so it is not instant either even after you receive positive news and apply for a visa or trasnfer from you current one.
Apart from the fact that so many more people want to come to and work in the US than there are actual vacancies set down by law, another reason that the H1B becomes oversubscribed is within the H1B cap, a portion is allocated just to Singaporean and Chilean citizens under Free Trade Agreements they have with the USA. So the actual number of visas avilable annually is actually smaller than the 65,000 for most of the world.
Canadian and Mexican citizens with their respective TN visas and Australian citizens with their E3 visas have general US working visas options beyond the H1B as well. However as these countries don’t form the bulk of the H1B visa applications anyway as say Indian and Chinese citizens it really doesn’t improve the chances much of the average foreigner applying for the H1B visa and then undergoing the lottery system.
Also some organizations like government, education and non-profit are cap exempt so filing under these companies, your petition is assessed on its own merits and not additionally on whether there are any spaces left.
What Tips Can Improve Your Chances?
Well Mr. Sapochnick suggests a couple which I will summarize here;
1. Ensure that all documentation is submitted in your petition
2. Do your petition in a timely manner ( I agree and see no reason why April 1 should not be your goal in most circumstances)
3. Ensure it is sent to the correct USCIS adjudication center for your region
Major Tip: Consider filing multiple petitions from same employer if you can. For example if you have a US Masters degree file under both the main visa quota as fell as the additional cap for masters degree holders. If your company has multiple subsidiaries or parent companies, file additional petitions under their Employment Identification Numbers (EIN). The theory here is that, more petitions in the lottery increases your chances.
My additional advice not based on anything other than anecdotal evidence is that utilizing the premium filing system I discussed in other posts more thoroughly whereby you processing is expidited and your attorneys have contact details of yoru assessing case officer does not hurt at all. Of course there is an additional $1,000 for this route.
Anyway I wish you well in your H1B visa petition and thus H1B visa lottery for 2009 or 2010 or beyond and hope you get all that you desire!