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Immigration Law Blog

Monday, August 17, 2015

Does Submitting Multiple Applications Improve Your Odds of Winning the H1B Lottery?

Over the past few years there has been a greater demand for H1B visas.  In fact, many more people apply for these visas than there are visas available. When this happens, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducts a lottery to determine whom the available visas will be awarded to. In order to increase their odds of winning, many visa-seekers have started filing multiple petitions.

USCIS’s H1B lottery does not take into account the visa-seekers’ educational background, career path, country of origin, age, sex, or any other distinguishing characteristic. Instead, the lottery is done with a random number generator. One’s odds of winning depend solely on the number of petitions in the lottery. This means that the only way to increase one’s odds of winning is to submit multiple visa petitions and thus increase one’s ratio of petitions to the overall pool of petitions. 

There is a USCIS rule prohibiting visa-seekers from filing multiple identical H1B applications. However, there is no prohibition on a visa-seeker having multiple valid petitions filed on his or her behalf by different employers for different job offers.

A large company that really wants to hire a certain visa-seeker can in effect file multiple H1B petitions for the same visa-seeker by having each of its related entities file a petition on behalf of the visa-seeker. The only limiting factor is that each entity must be able to show a legitimate business need to hire the visa-seeker.  Some visa-seekers are accepting job offers from multiple companies, each of who files a petition on his or her behalf.

If the visa-seeker wins the lottery, he or she can choose which company to work for, and the visa will travel with them to that company. If the employee chooses to work for a company whose petition was not selected, or a company that did not petition for a visa for the employee at all, they will need to fill out a new petition, but it will almost certainly be granted since it is not subject to the cap.

While the practice of filing multiple petitions is legal, some criticize it as unethical. They claim that it is dishonest for visa-seekers to lead employer on if they do not intend to actually take the job being offered. If you are a applying for an H1B visa or a company filing a petition on behalf of an immigrant, you should consult an experienced attorney today to review your options.


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