Options if you didn’t make the H-1B cap

Every year USCIS makes 65,000 H-1B visas available for companies that are placing workers in “specialty occupations” such as engineering, architecture, computer programming, etc.  The government also makes an additional 20,000 H-1B visas available for those who hold a Master’s Degree or higher from a US university.  The first day that a company can apply for the H-1B is April 1st.  Last year approximately 122,000 H-1B petitions were filed on April 1st for the 85,000 visas.  All of the H-1B applications were put into a computer generated lottery and then reviewed for approvability.  If you’re doing the math you have figured out that about 40,000 people who were qualified for an H-1B visa were not even reviewed because they weren’t lucky enough to get selected in the lottery.  The same scenario will likely play out again this year.  What options do these people have if they are not selected in the H-1B lottery?

There are several business visa categories that might be good alternatives for those who lose the H-1B lottery.  Here is a partial list of potential alternatives:

L-1A for executives and managers.  L-1A status can be issued to executives and managers who will come to the United States to work in an Executive or Managerial capacity for a United States branch, subsidiary, parent or affiliate office of a foreign company.

L-1B for workers with “specialized knowledge”.  The LB-visa is issued to workers with specialized knowledge of your company’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques or management. This includes specialized or advanced knowledge of your company applications in international markets or processes and procedures.

E-1 treaty trader.  This visa is used by foreign nationals who will conduct “substantial” trade between the United States and their country of nationality.  The trade must also be principally between the United States and the E-1 applicant’s country of nationality.

E-2 treaty investor.  The visa is used by foreign nationals who are developing or directing an enterprise in which they have invested or actively in the process of investing a “substantial” amount of capital.

TN trade NAFTA.  TN status is available for citizens of Canada and Mexico.  Only a select list of professional occupations qualify for TN status.  The list can be found in the NAFTA appendix 1603.D.1

There are other options in addition to the ones listed above.  If you want to read about some of the other options, as well as more details on the ones listed above, visit this section of the website: [intlink id=”80″ type=”page” /]

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