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Updated January 2017: Every year the American government only issues a certain number of H-1B visas to “cap subject” American employers.
Why is there an H1B Lottery for “Cap Subject” H1B Visas?
Current law limits the number of H1B visas to 85,000 each year to “cap subject” employers.
Last year (2016) American “cap subject” employers submitted 233,000 H1b visa applications, and 85,000 were chosen in the lottery. In general, only 30% “cap subject” H1bs are chosen each year.
What is the Timeline?
In order to try to get an H1b visa for an employee, a “cap subject” employer must submit the H1b application during the first week of April 2017. Employers are not be notified until May, June or July (even if extra money is submitted to get expedited premium processing) whether the H1b was chosen in the lottery or not. If an H1b visa application is chosen and approved, it is “activated” on exactly October 1st (even if the employer pays extra to have it expedited) of the same year.
Do I have to participate in the lottery for every H1b Visa?
No, after an employee gets their first H1B visa chosen in the lottery, they do not have to participate in the lottery again for future H-1B visas.
What is an H1B “Cap Subject” Employer?
There is no list of “cap subject” employers that we know of – basically employers that are “for-profit” (no matter what size) are normally “subject” to the H1b Visa cap.
Are Any Professions Exempted from the H1B Cap?
No professions, even veterinarians, are automatically exempt from the numerical cap if they plan to work for a “cap subject” American employer.
Is There Any Way to Get an Advantage in the H1b Lottery?
Yes, the first 20,000 cap subject H1B visas are issued to foreign nationals who obtained their Masters Degree in America, so they are given preference in the lottery.
Master Degree graduates from American universities have a better chance of being selected in the H-1B lottery because the government first holds an annual lottery for 20,000 advanced degree visas; the H-1B visa applications that are not chosen as part of that selection process are then added to the pool of applications for the 65,000 regular H1B visas, giving the first-time advanced degree losers a second shot at getting an H1B visa.
How fast did last year’s H1B visas go?
The USCIS received about 233,000 applications from “cap subject” employers from April 1-7, 2016 for the 85,000 H1b visas that were available. About 36% were chosen in a computer lottery — and 64% were sent back to the employers with a refund of the government fees. It did not matter if they were sent with an expedite (premium processing) request or not (requesting premium processing does not increase the chances of being chosen in the H1b lottery).
The non-selection notifications are not posted online – the applicants must wait for a response in the mail, which may take 2-3 months.
Am I allowed to ask more than one cap-subject employer to submit an H1b application for me?
Yes! In fact predictions are that in April 2017 there may be over 250,000 H1b applications submitted to the government because so many job candidates are going to ask more than one employer to submit an H1b visa application for them. The law allows a foreign national to be named in more than one cap-subject H1B petition. In other words, two unrelated companies can file an H1B cap-subject petition for the same person. They do not have a way of finding out about each other.
Where can I research H1B visa jobs offered by American employers?
There are many websites that offer this service, and one is called H-1Base.
What is a “cap exempt” H1b employer?
Certain American universities and nonprofit groups are called “exempt” and are not subject to the H-1B visa cap. Sorry, but we do not have a list of “cap exempt” American universities or employers.
Are there any other exceptions to the H1B visa cap?
Can I Get an H1b Visa for a “Cap Subject” Employer For a Veterinarian Internship/Residency That Starts in June?
I don’t see how – the H1b applications are submitted between April 1 and April 7 each year, and if they are selected in the lottery and approved, they are not activated until October 1st of the same year (even if extra money for expedited processing was paid). Veterinary Internship or residency programs do not usually allow such a delay in starting their internship programs. In addition, cap subject employers are required (by strict laws) to pay at least $750 – $1,500 USD of the government fees.
As a friendly reminder, if a professional needs an American state license to work in the U.S. (such as a veterinary license to practice medicine), proof of an approved state license should be submitted along with the H-1B petition (there are some exceptions) or else the H1b visa may only be granted for 1 year (instead of 3 years).
Other Work Visa Options?
Who Prepares the H1B paperwork?
H1B visa applications are normally prepared for cap subject American employers by experienced American immigration attorneys.
Questions about hiring an attorney?
Call Danielle Nelisse, Immigration Attorney, at (619) 235-8811 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATED: JANUARY 2017