The Saga of H1B Lottery


I really never believed in lotteries, cos I was sure I wasn’t gonna win one. And there’s no fun in buying a lottery ticket and waiting for the results when you know you have only 0.01% probability of winning it. I’d rather play Blackjack or poker and loose money than do the same with a lottery ticket, in the formers I’d atleast have had fun.

This all started one year back at the time of H1B visa applications* (make sure you see the footnote if you have no idea of the H1B application process), when the general category went over the cap on the very first day and a random selection was applied to it, the Adv. Degree cap was however spared as the cap wasn’t reached for about a month. Then began the speculations of both the categories going into the random selection for this year. This was the favorite topic of every debate and discussion in the home. feeling bored? Guess what? We have H1B to talk about and worry about. We didnt ever expect that the extrapolation techniques we learnt in those stat classes could be put to use in life, Stat pros started extrapolating H1B applicant number for FY2009, drawing histograms representing staircases and linear ramp graphs. H1B was pretty much the subject of all debates and discussions, arguments and opinions. The ever optimistic me, still believed that the Adv. Degree cap would last atleast for a week this year.

I really never believed in lotteries, but i didn’t know USCIS had different plans for me. Finally the day came which I marked in my calender as ‘THE BIG DAY’ and yes, both the categories went over the cap and the applications were to be picked via a random selection, in uncomplicated non-euphemistic English – Lottery. The speculation turned into a nightmare, only that it had a recess (which was the extension of OPT*). Retaining work in US came down to the flip of a coin, and so what did I do? I flipped a coin. Coin flipping site became the most visited site by me and probability class came back to use. Stat pros took in charge again, calculating the probabilty of getting selected in the Lottery and almost everyone seemed to have their own magic number. Guys bad at stats resorted to God, I even called up an overnight bhajan* and suggested that everyone sleep during the day at work and do bhajans* in the night so that their application will be picked. Fingers were crossed all the time anyway.

The Real Big Day was the one when USCIS conducted the Lottery. Heartbeat skipped when a friend informed that he was picked in the Lottery, the Time has come, the Time came indeed. Then the Forum freak took birth, started investigating the ‘other’ ways of knowing if my application was picked in one of the several forums, dedicated to the topic. The one obvious way in all the posts was to check if the application fee cheques had been cashed. I ran to our cashier and asked her to check the cheques. Fits of panic came to me when she informed me that my cheque wasn’t cashed. I asked her if it was canceled, she said it was still outstanding. So I still had hope. I called in my Attorney to check if she had heard something, she hadn’t, either ways. But she promised to inform me as soon as she knows the result, whatever it be. While i was trying to work normally, every few minutes a friend was informing me that he had gotten through the lottery. Why God! Why me! I was sure I wasn’t gonna win one .

It was time to get off work and I was happy that I wont have access to net for sometime. Sometime being 15 mins, the drive from office to Home. My Roomies also hadn’t heard of anything which kinda calmed me, If I’m going to hell, I dont want to be alone. Then it was about 10.30 in the night, I checked the office email. Voila !!!!! The lawyer had emailed me the application receipt which meant mine was picked in the Lottery. I laid to rest in my grave(bed) with some costco wine and grape juice. Apr 15: H1B application picked in the Lottery. Apr 21: H1B approved. Apr 29: H1B Documents received.


*H1B visa applications: H1B is the work visa which allows a non-immigrant worker to work in United States. The stipulated amount of quota(cap) is 65,000 visas for general category and an additional 20,000 visas for people who hold an Advanced Degree from a US university, per Fiscal year. If the number of applicants exceed the cap in the first two days of accepting applications, the applications to be processed are selected via a random selection.

*OPT: Optional Practical Training under which a foreign student graduated from a US University is allowed to work in United States.It has been increased from 12 months to a whopping 29 months.

*bhajan: A ritual where groups of worshipers sing holy songs to worship God.


27 Responses to “The Saga of H1B Lottery”

  1. 1 SK

    LOL!! :–)
    Congrats on successfully winning the lottery :–P
    Now they have extended the duration of OPT right, which is a little better I suppose. :–D

  2. 2 adhyayan

    I joined pottery class a month ago.. was doing fine for some classes.. Rest of the classmates practiced extra and did great and I sucked … conveniently there was a long weekend and one day I didnt feel well.. so just stopped going…I couldnt make myself go…
    Hope your guitar story isnt so…

  3. @SK: yes they did and actually its a lot better, but im glad im safe in the first place 🙂

    @adhyayan: ‘practiced extra’? 😦 hmmm i hoped all these guys attending classes would be lame and i’d be the sole genius 😦

  4. 4 hariharan

    Congrats on ur H1B ; but its 65k for general and not 60k as u mentioned;

  5. 5 Cuckoo

    At last I could come here to say ‘Congratulations’ !!

    Smile on your luck now. 🙂

    BTW, well written piece.

  6. @hari: Thx for ur correction, I have updated the post with it 🙂

    @Cuckoo: Thx, smile? Im ROTFLing on it 🙂

  7. 7 arunima

    my friend who is married and whose husband is in the states have been trying and she hasn’t been lucky. He cannot take her now until he completes some more years in the U.S.

  8. @arunima: These immigration matters coming in the way of marriage is the worst thing that could happen. Good luck to her.

  9. Awesome, dude! Congratulations!

    Mine is still in the list of danglers I think — or it may have been rejected. But who cares, it is OPT anyway. Better luck next time 🙂

  10. 10 Cuckoo

    Ho Ho Ho…
    Can’t I smile ? 🙂

    BTW, you tagged here.

  11. @sudipta: Yeah OPT is the saving grace. Good luck anyway.

    @Cuckoo: saw the tag, will keep it in my wait list. If I do it now I’ll be lost as to whom to tag, so will do it when I get some more readers 🙂

  12. A wonderfully written piece.
    Keep it up

  13. @Manpreet: oye thankyou ji 🙂

  14. 14 Niharika

    Hey..congrats on getting H1B.
    I came across your blog when I was looking for info on H1B lottery results. Actually mine was applied through my company and they haven’t informed me of anything. Could ypu tell me how to check the status of my application?

  15. 15 shruti

    Wht about applications on hold? How long do they have to wait ?

  16. @Niharika: thx Niharika for leaving a comment. I have emailed you with some info.

    @Shruti: have no idea, USCIS might have some updates on the situation. I stopped checking it after I got it 🙂

  17. 17 amit

    hi guys plz guide me abt the info on H1B. Still ppl are getting mails for wining the lottery if not then when can we expect the list of pending/waiting list petitions.

    PPLS, Please guide me


  18. 18 amit

    congrats to all the guys those who where lucky in winning da lottery. I wish that best for luck for the bright future

  19. 19 rajesh

    hi guys plz guide me abt the info on H1B. Still ppl are getting mails for wining the lottery if not then when can we expect the list of pending/waiting list petitions.

  20. hi guys how can we know that the general cap is finished or still going on. can we wait or think that it is over for this year.
    One more thing please tell me my company applied petition for me now they are tell if ur case is not selected we will put u in L1 visa we u tell me wht makes different between L1 and H1b and which one is good for working thr plz tell me

  21. @amit, rajesh: I have a few friends who knew they got selected in the Lottery as late as last week. If its not still a ‘No’, keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best, thats the only thing we can do anyway.

  22. 22 harry


    Does any one get their case selected in h1 lottery, after 2nd june 08?

  23. @harry: I think most of the people who got selected have already gotten the receipt. I dont know much abt the waiting lists though. All the best.

  24. i have applied for h1 visa in april2008 and i have not receive my approval how long i have to wait for my approval

  25. 25 R

    Hi Maverick,

    Congrats on your Visa. My question is similar to that of Niharika.

    My employer got back to me saying that mine wasn’t picked up.

    However, I just want to know, if there is no alternate way for me to figure out the status of my application, rather than only rely on my employer completely ?


  26. 26 mish

    my application was picked in the lottery but so far I have not got a rejection letter or an acceptence letter please somebody tell me what are my chances of getting an h1b approval

  27. Zero deposit bonuses routinely have words and circumstances which you desire to adhere to when getting involved in with the
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