Is the H-1B Lottery Cap On Its Way Out?

If you’ve been paying attention to the immigration news in 2023, you’ve seen the problems that arose from this year’s H-1B random lottery selection. With so many allegations of fraud, it seemed like the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services would almost have to start the selection process over from scratch. While studies are still ongoing regarding the prevalence of fraudulent registrations and potential new registrants, many opponents of the system are arguing that the lottery is obsolete and should be replaced. What’s going on behind the scenes? We’ll give you the details here.

History of the Lottery

For decades, the US government has understood the critical role that foreign workers play in the labor market and economy. Industries like STEM fields, education, and healthcare already face massive shortages. Without foreign workers, there would be serious domino effects across the country. To mitigate this while ensuring its national citizens' safety, the government implemented the H-1B visa, along with its strict requirements and guidelines.

Even with rigorous requirements, the H-1B visa remains in high demand, but only 65,000 are available, with another 20,000 given to those with advanced degrees. This cap is always reached before the end of the year, with the demand far outweighing the supply. Because of this problem and the limit set by Congress decades ago in 1990, a lottery system was implemented. The lottery determines which registrations may move forward and file the H-1B petition in its entirety. This doesn’t guarantee visa approval, but it gives petitioners the chance for success.

Opponents of the Lottery

Still, as the saying goes, just because it’s how it’s always been done doesn’t mean that’s how it should continue to be done.

Opponents of the lottery system claim that the cap limits established in 1990 are no longer relevant. The labor shortage continues to rise, while hundreds of thousands of qualified foreign workers are rejected due to the outdated system. They claim there’s no need for a cap, which removes the lottery aspect of the process.

Those who defend the lottery system argue that many employers use foreign labor to reduce costs and keep from paying Americans the wages they deserve. Removing the lottery and cap would harm US workers, giving skilled foreign workers their jobs at lower wages. However, the system is set up to ensure these visa holders receive at least or greater than their peers when they accept a job.

Another argument is that limiting the H-1B visas is essential due to the backlog of green card requests. But this argument is refuted because those noncitizens currently in line have I-40 petitions and a priority date already. Any future H-1B green card applicants would end up in the system after a wait of a few months or years, and their priority date would be after those in the backlog.

Since there are no limits on other visa types, it is questionable why skilled workers who are such an integral part of the overall American economy are turned away. Many of them choose to take their talents and skills to other countries, increasing the competition the United States has with other vital industries. It’s a flawed system by all accounts, but we’re not sure it’s on its way out yet.

What’s Next?

The H-1B visa system remains complex and challenging, but the benefits that come with it are worth the effort. Still, it's easier when you work with someone who knows what they're doing, like our professionals at Visa2US.

Until the H-1B visa process undergoes its much-needed reform, we continue to be a constant source of knowledge and help to those who wish to pursue a petition. Contact us today to see how we can guide you through this often confusing journey and maximize your chances of obtaining a successful H-1B visa.


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H-1B Visa

H-1B Visa

H-1B visa is used by businesses and organizations in the United States to employ foreign nationals with the preferred qualifications, knowledge, and expertise in a role.

I-485 Adjustment of Status

I-485 Adjustment of Status

Submit a form I-485 application to apply for lawful permanent resident status.

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

An applicant must either hold an advanced degree or have an exceptional ability in their field that would substantially benefit the U.S. to be qualified.