Alternatives to H-1B: Escaping the Quota Trap

Now that we are close to completing both the H1B regular and master’s quota for the fiscal year 2008, and the next chance for applying will only happen on April 1st 2008, it is good to assess alternatives to H1B.

Looking at the staggering demand for the work visa this year, many of our readers have been asking the question “what are our options?” Apart from the H1B Master’s quota exemption, the H1B regular too have a few exempt categories, which might an option to some.

Holding an H-1B Visa Already

Individuals who already have n H1B are considered to have been counted against the H1B cap already and are not subject to the cap a second time. Such a beneficiary can apply for H-1B with new employers or extend their stay etc without being subject to the cap. Also, former H-1B holders, including some who are no longer in H-1B status or living outside the U.S., may be eligible for exemption under this clause. Consult your attorney to find out the specifics.

Working for Exempt Organizations

A number of organizations are exempt from the H-1B cap. These include institutions of higher learning or related/affiliated nonprofit entities, nonprofit research organizations, and governmental research organizations.

The USCIS also allows cap-subject employers to apply for H-1B cap exemption under this category if they can show that the beneficiary will work with any of these exempt organizations.

Working for Federal Programs

Foreign born physicians who studied in US can opt for an H1B exemption by joining the Conrad Program, or similar federal programs, which allow them to apply for a waiver under the “two year foreign residence requirement pertaining to J-1 exchange visitors”.

Applying for a B-1 (Business Visa) instead

An individual who qualifies for a H1B can apply for a B1 or business visa as well. However, this means the individual will have to be employed by a foreign company and paid by that company as well. Moreover, B1 is a short term visa and cannot be extended indefinitely.

Other Visa Categories Available to H1B Beneficiaries
  1. H-3 Visa for alien trainees
  2. H-1B1 for Citizens of Chile and Singapore (Under the Free Trade Agreements)
  3. TN Visa for Canadian and Mexican Professionals.
  4. L-1 visa for intra-company transferees.
  5. J-1 for trainee exchange visitors
  6. O-1 visa for individuals with extraordinary ability.
  7. E-1/E-2 visa for employees of foreign companies either investing or holding a financial treaty with the US
  8. E-3 Visa for Australians