Didn't get picked in the lottery? Here are 5 Alternatives to the H-1B Work Visa

Didn't get selected in the H-1B Lottery? What are other work visa alternatives to an H-1B Visa?

On April 17, 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has completed the H-1B Lottery selection process. On April 11, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption.

What if my application is exempt from the cap?

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. These include:

  1. H-1B workers who are petitioned for or employed at an institution of higher education or its affiliated or related nonprofit entities or a nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization.
  2. Current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the FY 2019 H-1B cap.

USCIS will also continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  1. Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  2. Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  3. Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  4. Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

What happens to unselected petitions?

USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees unless the petition is a duplicate filing. If your H-1B application was not selected and you desire to work in the United States, we recommend that you consult with an attorney to help you determine the best immigration option for you.

I'm interested in working in the U.S. What are other work visa alternatives to the H-1B Visa?

Here are five work visa options for those who would like to work in the United States:

  1. E-2 Investor VisaIf you are interested in starting your own business in the U.S., have access to capital (which can be from a gift or an unsecured loan), and hold citizenship with an E-2 treaty country, one option is to launch a business that utilizes your skills from your undergraduate studies. The E-2 visa requires that you invest a substantial amount of money in an enterprise and that you hold the position of developing and directing the business. In other words, you need to primarily manage the operations and have a plan to eventually hire U.S. workers that you will supervise once you apply for the E-2 visa. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, this is a good visa option that is renewable so long as your business remains viable.
  2. E-3 Visa for Australian Professionals: The E-3 nonimmigrant visa classification is a special visa for Australian Professionals. The applicant must be coming to the United States to temporarily perform part-time or full-time services in a specialty occupation. In order to be eligible for this visa, the applicant must have a legitimate offer of employment in the United States and possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials. A specialty occupation is one that requires the application of a body of specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in the specialty is a minimum required for entry into the occupation. For example, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, and theology are specialty occupations. 
  3. EB-1 Extraordinary Ability VisaIf you have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim, then you may be eligible for the EB-1 visa, sometimes called the "Genius" or the "Einstein" visa. Your achievements must be recognized in your field through extensive documentation, which means that you have to prove that you have risen to the very top of your field.  The great thing about this visa is that no offer of employment is required, which means that you can self-petition and an employer-petition is not required. This visa can lead to a green card.
  4. O-1 Extraordinary Ability VisaThe O-1 visa is for individuals with “extraordinary ability.” It’s so important to remember that this is just a legal term and Immigration will evaluate whether you have extraordinary ability based on whether you have experience that fits into certain categories. The O-1 visa is for those with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, and athletics, as well as those in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry. This is a temporary visa and does not lead to a green card, unlike the EB-1 visa above.
  5. TN Visa for Canadians and Mexicans: The TN Visa is a special visa granted to Canadian and Mexicans professionals pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The applicant must have a legitimate offer of employment in the United States and possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials. Among the types of professionals who are eligible to seek admission as TN nonimmigrants are accountants, architects, computer systems analysts, dentists, economists, engineers, graphic designers, interior designers, lawyers, pharmacists, physicians, registered nurses, scientists, teachers, and veterinarians. 

Remember that immigration applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis, so it's important to seek legal counsel if you're planning to obtain a work visa in the United States, to make sure that your case is presented in the best possible light. With the right evidence presented in a compelling fashion, you may be eligible for these work visa options. 

Please contact us for a consultation if you would like more information regarding these or other employment-based visas. Follow us on InstagramTwitterFacebookLinkedIn or Tumblr for up-to-date immigration news.


Rasoulpour Torregoza is the law firm for immigrants, by immigrants. We are founded on the motto of LegalEase: we do away with the legal jargon and make law easy to understand, so you can focus on what’s important to you – going for your American Dream.
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