In March 2021, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducted the annual lottery for H-1B visas during fiscal year (FY) 2022, which begins on October 1, 2021. On June 15, 2021, USCIS announced that it received 308,613 H-1B registrations for FY2022 and selected 87,500 of those to be eligible to file H-1B petitions.
Every year since 2014, there have been more prospective H-1B petitioners than available visas, requiring USCIS to randomly select from among all submissions. The annual H-1B cap is set at 85,000—which includes 20,000 reserved for individuals with eligible U.S. master’s (or higher) degrees.
Historically, USCIS selects more than 85,000 petitions because not all petitions will be filed and approved. For the previous 5 years, USCIS selected at least 100,000 prospective H-1B petitions in order to reach the annual cap of 85,000. This accounts for anticipated withdrawals and denials.
USCIS began an electronic registration last year for FY2021, and repeated the electronic process this year for FY2022. Last year, USCIS received nearly 275,000 registrations and selected 106,100 during the initial round of selections. Then, in August 2020, when not enough H-1B petitions were filed to reach the cap, USCIS conducted a second round and selected 18,315 additional registrations, for a total of 124,415.
Limited explanation was available regarding the significant decrease from previous years in the number of cases selected. However, the Service did commit to monitoring the petition filing rates and selecting additional registrations if necessary to reach the annual cap.