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h1b immigration

Updated September 2019:  Every year the American government only issues a certain number of H1B visas to “cap subject” American employers.

Why is there an H1B Lottery for “Cap Subject” H1B Visas?

Current law limits the issuance of H1B visas to 85,000 each year to “cap subject” employers.

During the most recent H1B visa lottery (April 2019) American “cap subject” employers submitted 190,000 H1B visa applications, and 85,000 were chosen in the lottery.

What is the Timeline?

In order to try to get an H1B visa for an employee, a “cap subject” employer normally submits the H1B application during the first week of April.  Employers may not be notified until May,  June or July whether the H1b was chosen in the H1B 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.

Will the H1B Visa Lottery Selection Process Change in April 2020?

There are plans to change the H1B lottery selection process, but as of September 2019 the changes have not been finalized yet.  This blog article will be updated when the finalized changes are announced.

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 H1B 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?

customer review immigration attorneyNo 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 an additional chance of being selected in the H1B lottery because the government first holds an annual lottery for 20,000 master degree visas; the H1B visa master degree 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 master degree losers a second shot at getting an H1B visa.

h1b visa

How fast did last year’s H1B visas go? 

The USCIS received about 190,000 applications from “cap subject” employers during the first week of April 2019 when only 85,000 H1B visas were available.

A random computer lottery selection was done. Those that were not chosen 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 6 – 8 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 2020 there may be over 200,000 H1B applications submitted to the government again 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 “cap 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?

  • H1B visa extensions for persons who already had an H1B visa chosen in the lottery do not have to participate in the lottery again (so long as they were counted in the H1B visa cap previously).
  • H1B visa transfers from one U.S. employer to another U.S. employer (called “change of employer”) do not have to participate in the lottery (so long as they were counted in the H1B visa cap previously) if both employers are for profit cap subject employers.
  • H1B visa transfers from one U.S. employer to another (called “change of employer”) DO need to be counted against the cap if the foreign national is changing jobs from a U.S. employer that was exempt from the limits (like a university) to one that is not exempt (a for-profit company).

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 the following October 1st of the same year (even if extra money for expedited processing was paid).

Veterinary Internship and residency programs do not usually allow a delay in starting their programs. In addition, cap subject employers are required (by strict laws) to pay at least $750 – $1,500 USD of the government fees. Moreover, the low salaries paid to veterinary interns and veterinary residents are not allowed for H1B visas.

Does My State License Need to Be Submitted with the H1B Visa?

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 H1B petition (there are some exceptions) or else the H1B visa may only be granted for 1 year (instead of 3 years).

In some cases, proof that all requirements for the state license have been met can be submitted with the H1B in lieu of the approved state license (for example, in states where the license cannot be approved without a social security number).

Other Work Visa Options?

    • H1B1 Visa for Professionals from Chile or Singapore
    • E3 Visa for Professionals from Australia
    • TN Visa for Professionals from Mexico or Canada


H1b Immigration Attorney

Danielle Nelisse | H1B Immigration Attorney

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



4 comments on “H-1B VISA CAP LOTTERY

  1. jonathan
    March 29, 2011

    Hi Danielle
    Your legal services are very much appreciated. I am pleased with the information you provided, thank you!

  2. Romila
    December 3, 2010

    Good info. for people who are seeking opportunities in USA

  3. Dr.Krishna Kumar Singh
    December 2, 2010

    I m a veterinarian (B.V.Sc.&A.H. from Ranchi veterinary College Ranchi ; Kanke ; Birsa Agricultural university; India since 1984. I m in veterinary practice at BOKAROSTEEL CITY, Bokaro ; India since 25years ago. I want to do work as a private practionars of only cow in AMARICA due to INDIA is a now became a‘’POLITCAL country” where there is no regard of scientist & a person having much degree.I have very much experience in Gynecological (sterlity, Pregnancy diagnosis in < 45 days100%, difficult dystocia , A.I. 90% success) &In infectious , Metabolic , Poisonings & other diseases of cow.
    Please,U help mefor veterinarian job .
    Dr Krishna Kumar Singh Touring Veterinary officer Bokaro ; India

    • immigrationworkvisa
      December 6, 2010

      Dear Dr. Singh:

      You will need an American animal hospital or American university to offer you a job in order to request a work visa. The work visa you qualify for (H-1B), will probably run out in January 2011 (there is an annual cap), but will become available again in April 2011 (to start work October 2011).

      Most American employers require that veterinarians obtain a state license from one of the American states to practice veterinary medicine (some universities do not), and if so, you need to make arrangements to apply for the license before applying for the work visa.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

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