Alternatives to the H-1B Visa

H-1B VIsa

The H-1B Cap lottery is underway, and shortly many companies and employees will find out if they have been part of the select few that will be issued a visa. We will not know the numbers for a few weeks, but it is likely that over 250,000 petitions were filed to fill the 85,000 available visas.

The Alternatives

  1. Finding an employer that is cap exempt: Certain research and educational institutions are exempt from the H-1B cap. These institutions can petition for H-1B’s without the petition being counted  toward the numerical limitations imposed by the statute.
  2. Country specific visas: Certain countries have visas available to them through other laws. Australia, Canada, and Mexico have visas that require similar qualifications to the H-1B. Australia has the E3 visa, which allows skilled workers from there to work in the U.S. And Canada and Mexico have the TN visa.
  3. Student and Exchange Visitor Visas: Student visas are available to those wishing to come study in the U.S. Unfortunately this does not include work authorization. However, an exchange visitor can work in the U.S. Those eligible for an H-1B can apply to programs that offer work experience and allow for a salary while they are benefiting from an educational environment.
  4. B1 in lieu of H-1B: If you are eligible for the H-1B and will be paid by a foreign employer, you may consider traveling on the B1 visa.
  5. More narrow non-immigrant visas: The H-1B is very broad, that is why it is so popular. However, there are other visas that may be available to you specifically. The L1 – for those already working for a company overseas (See transferring-your-employees-to-the-united-states). R1 – for religious workers (see religious-workers-immigration-options). O1 – for those with an extraordinary ability. E1 and E2 – for those from treaty trader and investor countries (see treaty-investors.) I visa – for journalists. And other specific visas for athletes and artists.
  6. Starting the green card process: There is always the option to begin the process of an employment based green card. This takes time and effort but results in the ultimate benefit.

In short – there are options available – contact an immigration lawyer about what is possible for you!