Why Experts Say 2023 Was the Worst Year in History for H-1B Visa Lottery Registrations, and How You Can Learn From It

Whether you successfully landed an H-1B visa in the 2023 lottery or not, the reality is that millions of people registered and weren’t selected. This is particularly true in countries like India, where the capped limit on a per-country allocation is 7%. The United States permits a limited number of visas annually, but the amount is split amongst all countries with applicants. This creates a substantial backlog of registrants, all of whom are transferred to the next year. Although this has been the system for decades, many experts say 2023 was the worst year yet. What happened, and how can you learn from the mistakes this year? Read on to find out.

The Pitfalls of the FY2023 Lottery

Before the lottery took place, many skeptics predicted it would be the worst one yet. Each year, more registrations are received than there are visa allotments. Those who aren’t selected usually try again the following year, plus more initial applicants enter the system.

Due to the political climate in many countries and the worker shortage in the United States, USCIS already expected a significant number of registrations. Even with strict requirements making it tough to get an H-1B visa approved, that doesn’t stop people from trying. 

USCIS reported an official count of 780,884 H-1B registrations for FY 2024. This number substantially increased 61% over FY 2023’s 483,927 registrations.

But the number of registrations isn’t the only reason people call this year such a failure. The United States government launched an investigation of dozens of companies in May 2023 due to possible attempts at fraud.

Because of the challenging aspect of securing an H-1B visa and the expense involved in applying, some employers try to boost their chances of getting selected by violating the registration rules. 

They submit duplicate registrations for the same beneficiary through different but connected organizations in the hopes that the employee will be chosen and allowed to subcontract or transfer employers. In other situations, they submit multiple registrations under different business names, all connected to the same head company. These situations and similar instances are all violations of the lottery rules.

Learning From FY 2023

So what can we do to learn from the fiasco of this fiscal year? While USCIS is investigating fraudulent attempts, many unselected registrations remain in limbo. If the selected employers are denied due to fraud, other applicants will fill those spaces.

In the meantime, this year showed us more than ever that we need to have a backup plan for our H-1B visa hopes. Your attorney can work with you to determine what other potential avenues you have to get into the US, but here are a few other categories:

●     If you’re an Australian or Canadian citizen, you may be able to attend school in the US at a university and obtain a work visa (E-3 and TN, respectively) while you’re there. Once you have this visa, it’s easier to return home and then re-enter the US.

●     Depending on your skills, you could apply for work under a cap-exempt employer. In these job vacancies, employers can hire foreign workers any time of year without worrying about lotteries, capped numbers, or deadlines. Exemptions to the cap are in higher education institutions, certain healthcare sectors, organizations associated with said higher education institutions, and non-profit or government organizations conducting research.

●     Applying for an EB-2 work visa under a National Interest Waiver.

What’s Next?

At Visa2US, we understand how important it is for your career and your family to find a way to enter and work in the United States. Our professionals are available around the clock to answer your questions and offer guidance during this challenging process. Contact us today to see how FY 2023 is playing out and how you may be able to use the H-1B lottery setbacks to propel your future forward!

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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.