More than 160,000 H-1B applications subject to lottery

Applicants vie for only 65,000 available visas.

Nearly 163,000 H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2009 will now be subject to random lottery selection as part of the U.S. government's temporary work visa program.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released the preliminary numbers of applications it has received for 65,000 H-1B visa and 20,000 advanced degree work permits available. Close to 163,000 applications were received between when the filing period began April 1 until it closed April 7. More than 31,200 of the filed petitions were for the advanced degree category, the USCIS reports.

The government agency will commence the random lottery process after it completes initial data entry for all filings received during the application period. The USCIS expects to begin the "computer-generated" random lottery with the selection of the 20,000 advanced degree visas. Advanced degree applicants not chosen in the lottery will be included in the random lottery for the 65,000 available visas. Applicants receiving a visa from either the advanced degree or general program would be able to begin work at their sponsor companies Oct. 1, 2008.

"USCIS will reject, and return filing fees for all cap-subject petitions not randomly selected, unless found to be a duplicate," a USCIS statement reads.

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