Am I Crazy or is That a Lot of H-1B Cap Lottery Registrations?

By Andrew M. Wilson

April 28, 2023 | Immigration Blog

It's a lot of H-1B cap lottery registrations! -- USCIS announces that they received an astounding 780,884 H-1B cap lottery registrations this FY 2024.

It is becoming more and more difficult to rationally explain our H-1B cap lottery system to companies and individuals. How does the volume of registrations justify such a small cap of 85,000 each FY? Why are we limiting U.S. companies from hiring from a needed pool of talent? Why do we not follow a lesson from recent history from 2001-2003 when Congress raised the cap to 195,000 based on the economy and demand?

These questions rise to the surface once again for me after reading USCIS' announcement that they received 780,884 H-1B cap lottery registrations this year. 780,884. That is a big number.

Interestingly, 408,891 registrations were for beneficiaries with multiple eligible registrations. That raises a concern about abuse of the system and some individuals trying to gain an unfair advantage for selection.

After seeing the initial lottery selections, we all knew that this year was going to be another record. FY 2022 was 308,613 and last year FY 2023 was 483,927. The numerator stays the same, but the denominator keeps growing and has more than doubled in two years. That math simply does not work anymore for such an important component of our immigration system. The status quo has been shattered and become indefensible.

A reasonable solution does not need to be overly controversial, complicated or unique. First, consider limiting registrations to one per person. Second, simply follow the playbook from 2001 and have Congress act to raise the H-1B cap limit once again.

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