Alternatives to the H-1B Visa

  • May 5 2017

The H-1B visa is highly sought after for immigrants who qualify for it and have an employer to sponsor them. However, there are only a limited number of these visas available on an annual basis. There are a few alternatives to the H-1B visa, which may be helpful for some immigrants who qualify.

The Annual H-1B Visa Cap

Starting in 1990, Congress imposed a yearly “cap” on the number of new H-1B visas that could be issued every year. Initially, the 65,000 visa allotment was more than enough. However, since about 1997, the annual cap has been far beneath the number of applications permitted.

Every year in April, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin a countdown to indicate how many petitions have been filed and how many slots are left. In 2008, the cap was reached in a single day. Clearly, it is often difficult to obtain in H-1B visa because of these limitations.

If an applicant cannot submit his or her application before the cap is reached, they will have to wait until the following year to submit a request again. Applications are not held over on an annual basis, and each person must reapply if they were not selected that particular year.

Alternatives to the H-1B Visa

If you qualify for the H-1B visa, you may also qualify for other types of work-related, nonimmigrant visas. A few of these options are outlined below.

  • L Visas. When a company has a branch, affiliate, or subsidiary in the United States and another country, an employee may be able to use an L visa to transfer from that branch to another location in the United States. To qualify, the employee should be a manager, executive, or have specialized knowledge. In addition, the employee must have worked for at least one year outside of the United States with the same company.
  • O Visas. High achievers in the sciences or arts, business, education, athletics, or television and film may be able to apply for an O visa. Only those who have national or international acclaim and who are considered some of the best individuals in their field will qualify for this type of visa.
  • H-2B Visa. If an employee is only planning to work temporarily than in the United States, he or she may be able to apply for an H-2B visa. This visa works well for one-time work situations, seasonal work, or peak load The job located in the United States will last less than one year for it to qualify for this type of visa.
  • TN Visa. Workers from Canada or Mexico may qualify for a TN Visa. This visa as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement and is similar to the H-1B visa, but is limited to fewer occupations.

Unfortunately, no visa option can completely take the place of the H-1B visa, but these other options can get close for some immigrants. Contact us to discuss your legal options with an experienced immigration law attorney.


Posted in: Immigration Law