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Exploring Alternatives to the H-1B Visa

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Earlier this week, some employers and their employees received very good news while many others received disappointing news as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that they’ve completed data entry for all of the selected Lottery winners of the H-1B cap-subject petitions. If you haven’t heard back, don’t panic just yet as we’ll continue receiving receipts over the next week. As employers wait in limbo before addressing potential staffing needs, there are alternative pathways to employment of foreigners that don’t require an H-1B Visa, if they qualify. Below are some of the other visa options available to businesses and individuals.
L-1 Visa
L-1 visas allow organizations in the U.S. with foreign affiliates to transfer employees who have previously worked in a foreign country to the U.S. Whether for work in a commonly held company, the L-1 visa is reserved for either managers and executives or employees with “specialized knowledge” but, unlike H-1B, it does not have a degree requirement. The L-1 visa requires that the employee has worked for the foreign organization for a continuous year during the last three years of employment.
J-1 Visa
The J-1 visa is designed to foster mutual understanding between the U.S. and other countries through cultural and educational exchange. The J-1 visa allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. as “exchange visitors,” and is popular among business trainees, teachers, scholars, and medical professionals. J-1 visas allow the employee into the U.S. while in a training capacity within their given field.  
O Visa
Available to people of extraordinary ability, the O visa is used to cover employees in a wide variety of fields. Artists, athletes, and entertainers along with scientists, researchers, teachers, and business people are all capable of receiving an O visa. For a foreign national to qualify for an O visa, the petitioning employer must be able to establish the person’s extraordinary ability, and the recipient must continue to work in their recognized field while in the U.S.
F-1 Visa
While F-1 visas are designed to allow foreign students to enter the U.S. to study, they also provide, following graduation, Optional Practical Training (OPT) for one year in which graduating students can work in the U.S. Students graduating with degrees in qualifying science, technology, engineering, and math fields can qualify for a STEM OPT extension allowing them to work in the U.S. for an additional two years.
These are just some of the alternate ways foreign nationals can qualify for work in the U.S. outside of the H-1B program. The visa types listed above have many more details to consider and we invite your inquiry regarding any of them. 
If you found yourself unlucky in the H-1B lottery this year, there are also institutions that are exempt from the H-cap (click here to find out more). Immigration is full of options, (such as an H-3 training visa or a B-1 visa in lieu of H) and while many times the obvious path is blocked, there are creative routes to get people where they need to be. At GoffWilson, we’ve been assisting employers and helping foreigners achieve their dreams with assistance in visa processing. We’ve established a reputation for delivering professional and personal service that speaks directly to the needs of our clients. If you think an alternative to an H-1B Visa is worth exploring for your organization, contact us here and we’ll be happy to discuss and walk you through the next steps of the visa process. It’s what we do!
Filed under:H-1B Visa, Immigration Law, J-1 Visa