I know there are limited H-1B visas available to specialty technical workers each year. I've had several employers express interest in hiring me, and the idea that I might be shut out based on bad luck is, frankly, bothering me a lot.
Is it possible for one employer to submit several petitions for me, or for several different employers to all submit petitions for me, in order to increase the odds of my getting one selected in the annual random H-1B lottery?
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) implemented a rule in 2008 to prohibit any one employer from submitting more than one H-1B petition for the same employee. The rule further prohibits related entities, such as parent, subsidiary, or affiliate organizations, from submitting multiple petitions for the same person unless there is a “legitimate business need” for the multiple petitions.
There is little guidance on what USCIS means by “legitimate business need,” but it presumably does not mean simply to increase the odds of getting at least one petition selected in the lottery. If USCIS determines that the same employer or related employers submitted more than one petition for the same person and that there was not a legitimate business need for doing so, USCIS will deny all the petitions. What's more, it will keep the filing fees.
On the other hand, if unrelated organizations wish to submit an H-1B petition for one person, in the hopes to employ you upon approval of an H-1B petition, that should be acceptable.
Nonetheless, it still would be wise to ensure that each organization actually intends to employ you if its petition is accepted and approved. Based upon the 2008 rule, it is clear that USCIS wants to prevent organizations from trying to game the system.
And there is the practical question of whether you can convince several different employers to spend up to a few thousand dollars in filing fees only to potentially have nothing to show for it.