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H1B Visa Lottery for FY 2014 (uscis.gov)
48 points by suyash on Apr 5, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 67 comments

I don't know where I read it, but I think it's true: every generation of Americans has tried to close the door to immigrants that try to come after them. This is simply the latest example.

Except it is not simply that. I think this is far more important. In an age where competition for talent has become global, any country that wants to get ahead (or remain ahead) needs to do everything it can to both train and attract said talent. And since American universities are not turning up enough people with technology degrees, America has to turn to foreigners to fill in the gaps in the tech sector.

Does this depress wages and screw over some Americans? You bet. Welcome to globalism. Your citizenship no longer matters to the labor market. Soon, your physical location won't matter either. Hopefully you have some other means of setting yourself apart from the (now) global pool of candidates.

>>..every generation of Americans has tried to close the door to immigrants that try to come after them

And the first generation(and next few) butchered the native habitants or sidelined them to the reserves. Is this the entire story?

My H1B application is in lottery despite already having an H1B visa. Here's why -

There are two types of H1Bs -

  * cap exempt: For non-profits, public/state universities , public university hospitals and national labs.
  * cap subject: For profit making companies.
According to visa rules, an applicant is subject to cap-based system if he/she hasn't been counted in the cap in last six years. You need to find an employer who will apply for your H1B in April and then wait for you until October. Not many employers will hire such candidate. So it's extremely difficult to transfer job from cap-exempt H1B employer to cap-subject H1B employer unless you have been counted in the cap-based H1B system before.

Moral: Don't take your first H1B job with a non-profit (Khan Academy??), national lab or public university.

You would think you may get some benefits by working for a research or non-profit organization, but sadly that's not the case.

So are you saying you've been on H1B visa for 6 years of more as of now? This is a great point, can you please share?

Nope, I am on a cap-exempt H1B for last 2-years.

Technically H1B visa is never transfered, but it's always a new application when you change employment. In 'normal' cases, people start with a cap-based H1B (with some profit making company) and then change employment to another profit making company. Their new H1B application isn't transfered, but it's not subject to any cap as that applicant has been already counted in the cap. The rule says that, "an applicant will not be counted towards cap if he/she has been subject to cap in last 6 years". Most cases fall under this category and hence it's commonly perceived as 'H1B transfer (without going through cap again)'.

If one starts with a non-profit H1B, then he/she needs to go through a cap-subject process to join a profit making company. While it's not impossible, it's extremely difficult to find an employer who will apply for your H1B in April and wait until October 1'st (when new FY begins) for you to join the company. There is a way out here - you can start working before October if you do concurrent employment at both places, but again that's difficult to achieve (both employers should agree as well!).


   * the wait time from April to October should be eliminated
   * allow work as soon as visa is approved
This will reduce the application rush and companies can pursue good candidates all round the year.

Also, keep in mind that not all H1B holders will enter US. It can be a carrot stick to curb attrition as an H1B holder employee won't switch a company in the hope of being 'on-site' some day. Although it's expensive to use this tactic nowadays as H1B fees are high!!

hes just applying again for H1B the second time after his 6 years expired for the previous time he was granted ( 3years reg + 3 years extension). Thats normal logic

His comment created confusion with "cap exempt" vs "cap subject" logic.

Murthy folks have explained this in better manner: http://www.murthy.com/2013/01/14/moving-from-cap-exempt-to-c...

Seems like there are many like me..!

It took only 5 days this year...

Past years: "FY 2010 cap numbers lasted until December 21, 2009. The FY 2011 cap was reached on January 26, 2011, the FY 2012 cap was reached on November 23, 2011, the FY 2013 cap was reached on June 11, 2012, and the FY 2014 cap was reached on April 5, 2013." Source: http://www.nafsa.org/Resource_Library_Assets/Regulatory_Info...

Next year it could be worse, like the 1st day the cap might be reached. It only shows how important and urgent is to fix the legal immigration system in this country.

The "apply in April and spend six months in limbo" structure of the H-1B program seems like it would heavily favor multinational companies that can hire someone for a position abroad, and relocate them to the US if their visa comes through. I wonder if that's why Infosys et al account for such a large portion of the H-1B pool.

Can anyone more familiar with the situation comment on whether this is how the process actually works? Do people who would be Infosys employees in the US continue to work for Infosys in India if their visa application gets rejected?

Large multinationals that hire abroad and then bring workers to the U.S. typically have a blanket L-1 and bring their foreign workers over on those visas. Depending on the country these workers can remain on their L-1 for anywhere from 3 months to 5 years. The L-1 is designed to allow companies to transfer their employees between offices in various countries easily.

I can't speak directly to what infosys does but another large Indian company that has a lot of H-1Bs has them because they don't qualify for the L-1 since their employees aren't technically transfers and come to the U.S. to work as employees for the Indian company and as a contractor to the U.S. companies (essentially). This particular company does continue to employ their workers when they come back to India as they have work for other countries and internal projects the labor can be used for.

If you are talking about people who get hired in India, then yes they continue to work for Infosys. I am not sure about what will happen to people who get hired in the US(like international students). Companies like Infosys are large enough that there is always another project where you can move to even if you dont get a visa.

Depending on what the classification of the U.S. student hire is they may qualify for extensions. For example an F-1 student that is nearing the end of their OPT work period (90-120 days) and is working towards a STEM degree can get an F-1 STEM OPT extension of 17 months. The employer they are working for must also be enrolled in E-Verify to qualify to employ an F-1 student with a STEM extension.

Then you have Cap-Gap. An F-1 student that has completed their OPT period and with a pending or approved H-1B petition may qualify to remain in F-1 status and get extended work authorization until Sept 30th (H-1B status and work authorization periods start on Oct 1). USCIS publishes the specifics for each fiscal year about Cap-Gap.

I am writing this so people in situation like me will feel better.

People didn't know what day it will run out, so we can assume than number of applications on 5th probably wasn't higher than on previous 4 days. We don't know on what time on day on 5th day it ran out. What's more majority of applications were made on 1st day (a lot of companies were expecting this situation, one which is getting me h1b included). I'd say expected probability of not getting a VISA is below 10% .

To counter the fact that USA government does "weekly" accounting of number of applications (that 65k-th application was made earlier this week, but only today government realized this) is this document from 2008 - www.uscis.gov/files/pressrelease/H1BFY08Cap040307.pdf , where USCIS released document the next day after cap was reached, the next day after they started accepting applications.

I realize this is guesswork but it makes me feel slightly better :) Thanks.

I think H1B visa is pretty horrible for start-up employees. Large Indian outsourcing companies like TCS, Infoasys etc. are using H1B for sending their half-trained software donkeys as cheap labor to US.

How can you equate a start-up founder with a QA guy working in TCS ?

I think there should be two different visa categories.

1. Those who are employed in their respective country for an outsourcing company and are applying for H1B. 2. Separate category for US based companies hiring global talent. 3. Separate caps for small companies.

What is wrong with lottery system.

My wife worked with an Indian outsourcing giant. She worked on a project by an American client. When they wanted to send someone to US on B1 visa they put 10 of their employees in the pipeline. Idea was if anyone's visa gets rejected the next person will try for it. They also divided these 10 people in 4 buckets and each bucket applied with a separate embassy in India.

I suspect with H1B lottery such large companies will also try to make more applications. Bad for everyone.

If government really wanted to fix this, they would give priority to international students graduating from universities in US first, then allocate any remaining H1-Bs for consultancy agencies from India and elsewhere.

True, outsourcing companies such as Infosys, Wipro, Satyam, Tata etc gobble up majority of H1B visas for sending cheap labor to US. http://www.businessweek.com/table/08/0305_h1b.htm

The data is for 2007, when financial sector was one of their primary customers. A bunch of Infosys and Tata's major customers (Lehman Brothers, Bear Sterns) are out of business, other entities are significantly smaller in size. That list might look very different in 2013.

Here is the list from 2013, the situation is even worse, most Indian Offshore companies are among top 10 now: http://www.epi.org/blog/top-10-h1b-guestworker-offshore-outs...

And its full of fraud...at this point these companies should be banned, its highly unethical.

Depends what needs fixing. If it's "have access to experienced engineers that aren't currently in the US", that wouldn't help.

"then allocate any remaining H1-Bs for consultancy agencies from India" The idea of companies eliminating a source of relatively cheap labor is unheard of, not gonna happen. While I agree with your statement, this is the crux of the problem, and why I am against 20k increase in STEM visas. Its bad for every worker, US citizen, Green Card Holder, and Visa alike in this country.

They do. See http://www.visapro.com/Immigration-Articles/?a=1090&z=48

The first 20,000 applicants with an advanced degree from a US institution have priority.

The program was first come first server after financial crisis. Now US economy became more attractive to foreign engineers and consulting companies once again.

God damn it, this screws me over pretty bad. Anyone else?

same here.. my OPT gets over in a few months.. this may screw me over completely and force me to go back to native country. Dreams in Silicon Valley burnt due to extremely limited cap.

I'm in the same boat as you. My OPT ends on September 30th, ironically enough (H1B starts Oct 1st).

A backup plan I've been thinking about would be to move to the Canadian west coast if I don't get a visa (EU citizens, your country may or may not have visa agreements with Canada that allow you to work there- France has nice things in that regard) to be not too far from my team.

Look into STEM OPT extension. It's good for 17 months. Your student advisor should know about it and your employer must be enrolled in E-Verify. You'll need the employers E-Verify # when applying and you'll get a new I-20 from your school. Nothing with USCIS is ever that simple but the employers I work with have lots of F-1 students that qualify and quite easily get their STEM OPT extension. You have to apply well before your OPT expires though (90-120 days).

Yeah, we thought about the OPT extension. The problem is that we're not enrolled in e-verify, and the company that we outsource HR etc. too doesn't do it at the moment either.

We might go down that path anyways if H1B fails; we'll see what happens.

Enrolling in E-Verify is very easy and if the company you outsource HR to can't process E-Verify for your I-9 Forms I'd be extremely worried.

Doesn't your company has to have an office there already or open one if you work for them from Canada?

If you have a MS degree then you qualify for the special category where they issue 20,000 visas thus if you strike out once, you get 2nd shot for the lottery.

"USCIS has also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption." So, advanced degree 20k cap is filled. The other way it via lottery.

same here, idk what to do now though!

#NeedImmigrationReform Nobody tells me that I need to win a lottery to just work...

Do I understand it right, that lottery will be only for applications made on 5th day, not for applications made through whole week? My application was on 1st and I don't know if I still can get screwed by randomness.

No, USCIS collects all the applications received during the 1st five business days and put them together before they are lottried out. So any application received after today would automatically be rejected.

Since the cap was reached today, does that mean 60K cap + all excess applicants that applied today, are put in the lottery for 60K slots?

exactly, the applications received were more than quota, thus the lottery.

Same here, I think there is still randomness for us, the lottery is perhaps the the total applicants versus the 60K cap. I am not sure though.

"USCIS will use a computer-generated random selection process (commonly known as the “lottery”) for all FY 2014 cap-subject petitions received through April 5, 2013."

It says through april 5th. So, All applications will face lottery even if you submitted yours on april 1st.

Meanwhile, Obama gives citizenship to illegal immigrants.

Exactly, I never understood Obama's stance on Immigration. He comes to SV and promises us that he will fix High Tech Immigration Problem but in actuality he does little. His policy instead focusses more on Illegal Immigration. This is where I prefer Republican party's agenda.

Republican Party's agenda... of building a long-ass fence across the US-Mexico border, or of punishing the kids of illegal immigrants for choices their parents made decades ago?

I don't necessarily agree with that either, I prefer Republican party's stance over high tech legal immigration. We need to give Green Cards to qualified people who will start tech startups and employ thousands of qualified people in america before we start giving green card to illegal aliens.

HN is not the place for these types of cheap political potshots. Please take it elsewhere, thanks.

If your goal was to boost votes for Democratic Party, what demographics would you choose?

HN is not the place for these types of cheap political potshots. Please take it elsewhere, thanks.

Is the lottery nationality based, or completely random?

It is completely random, so an international student who is a CS grad from Stanford is in the same boat as a Infosys QA guy from India.

I believe a lot of Companies would get angry when they realize their candidate did not get H1B. #NeedImmigrationReform

Do they review 85k (general and Masters combined) applications or grant 85k visas?

Well that sucks.

wow, that's 1st time since a few years...


You are an Indian who has just finished your MS in Stanford. To get a job now you compete in a lottery which puts you and a software donkey from TCS with a degree from pretentious engineering college at the same odds.

How is this tripe modded up? A software donkey? Has it ever occurred to this guy that he is talking about another human being? And has history belonged to only those who passed through the hallow halls of Stanford? WTF?

I have do not mean to disrespect any human being sir. (Also, I think I should apologize for using a specific company name in my comment but please read it only as Company X). To be more clear I belong to one such companies which is sending large number of H1B guys to US. When H1B visa is over its the turn of B1 Visa.

H1B visa is for specially skilled people who are in short supply in US. Most of the people including me in reality have no "special" skill that is in short supply in US.

We come here to US and paid enough just to survive + Indian salary.

I don't appreciate this sort of language used in HN either, moderators need to down-vote this comment heavily.

I know a lot of smart engineers from TCS who couldn't imagine doing an MS from the US (or for that matter even from India), because their family couldn't afford it. People who do not aspire to do an MS from Stanford certainly do not qualify being a "software donkey".

PS: No affiliation with TCS or Stanford other than having met smart people from both places.

I know a chinese Bus driver who plays better Golf than Tiger Woods but because he was poor he could not become a professional golfer. Now that reason does not matter nor the smartness. What matters is their current state. A TCS employee no matter how smart he is has very little positive impact on economy than an average Stanford graduate. TCS employee coming to US on H1B is less likely to create/contribute in building another Billion dollar company than say a Stanford graduate.

There will be "Good and Donkey Engineers" everywhere. Doing MS from stanford(assuming you are not lying) did not stop you from being a donkey here. :)

There is no such claim in my comment.

This guy cannot be from Stanford.

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