Even if you have the required qualifications for an H 1b visa and a US employer is ready to sponsor you, your H 1b visa is not guaranteed.
This is because of the annual cap on the number of H 1b visas that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can grant to foreign workers each year.
So, what if you do not get selected in the H 1b lottery? Do not get disappointed and continue reading this article to know other alternatives that are available to you if you are not selected in the H 1b lottery.
What are the options available if I am not selected in the lottery?
The annual quota for H 1b visa is 85,000, which includes 20,000 H 1b visas for individuals holding a US master’s degree or its equivalent. The most obvious way if you are not selected in the lottery is to try the next year.
However, people often do not want to wait for the next year, and they want alternatives to H 1b visa.
Herman Legal Group understands your urge to come to the US. Here are the following alternatives we recommend if you do not get selected in the H1b lottery.
Optional Practical Training if you are an F-1 student
Are you a student in the US on an F-1 visa? You have the opportunity to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) for 12 months which you can receive pre-completion of your studies or post-completion. This allows you to stay in the US on a student visa and apply for the H1b lottery again in the next year.
Are you a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) student? The STEM students get an advantage in terms of their OPT extension.
So, if you have a STEM degree and you opted for 12 months OPT which is about to end, and you still don’t have an H1B status, you can apply for a further 24 months extension on your OPT, which gives you a total of 3 years right to stay in the US post completion of your STEM course. During this duration, you can apply for an H1b visa and may get lucky in the lottery.
You can start your OPT once the USCIS approves your Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) and you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Apply in cap-exempt H1b jobs
Cap-exempt employment is always a good option for individuals who are not selected in the H 1b lottery. There are jobs in the US that do not fall under the H 1b quota, such as :
- Institutions of higher education or its related/affiliated nonprofit entities.
- Nonprofit or governmental research organizations.
The cap-exempt employer can file an H 1b petition on any part of the year irrespective of the quota, and if their H 1b petition is approved by the USCIS, you can start working with the employer.
You have to make a list of cap-exempt jobs available and apply directly to them with your CV, or you can contact the cap-exempt employer through platforms such as Linkedin and put forward your interest in working with them.
Go for Higher studies (such as a Master’s degree or a Ph.D.)
Opting for higher education may not be feasible but it may drastically improve your prospects of landing a H 1b job in the US.
This is because 20,000 H 1b visas are available for foreign nationals having higher education from the US and you may be lucky to get that if you are not selected in the normal quota of 65,000 visas.
Not only that, going for higher education allows you to further stay in the US for the term time of your course and approach the US employers directly for the job.
If you are working in a company that has an office in the US, you can apply for the L-1 visa if you are eligible for that.
You must have worked in the company for at least 1 year in the last 3 years in the position of a manager, executive, or employee with specialized knowledge.
You can also come on this visa to establish an affiliated office in the US of the foreign company if they currently do not have an office in the US.
The employees who entered the US for the purpose of establishing a new office can initially remain in the US for a period of 1 year. All other employees for other purposes can stay for up to 3 years.
If you are from Canada and Mexico and you want to do business activity in the US at a professional level, you can apply for a TN visa. This will allow you to enter the US if you are not lucky with your H 1b application.
This privilege is because NAFTA (The North American Free Trade Agreement) has created special economic and trade relationships for the US, Mexico, and Canada. You can initially stay in the US on a TN visa for up to three years.
The O-1 visa is a good alternative for you if your application is not selected in the h1b lottery. If you think you have the required skills to get hired by a US employer and you qualify for an O-1 visa, you should apply for it instead of waiting.
O-1 visas allow foreign nationals who have extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, arts, or athletics or who have shown extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.
The difficult part of getting this visa is proving your extraordinary ability or demonstrating extraordinary achievement. You are not alone. A little professional guidance from Herman Legal Group can drastically impact the outcome of your visa application.
E-3 Visas for Australian citizens
If you are a foreign national from Australia, you have a special option for specialty occupation jobs, that is, E-3 visas. The requirements for a specialty occupation are the same as an H1b visa.
But the biggest limitation of this visa is that it is available to you if you are a foreign national from Australia.
You cannot apply for this visa if you are a citizen of other countries. The individuals who entered the US on an E-3 visa can stay for 2 years period and, after that, can extend the period of their stay in 2 years increments. There is no maximum number of extensions an E-3 visa holder can get.
Employment-Based – First Preference Visa (EB-1 Visa)
EB-1 visa will be a big step if you decide to go as the qualification requirements for it is much higher than the nonimmigrant H1b visa.
However, the biggest advantage of this visa is that it is an immigrant visa, and you can apply for an employment-based green card if your visa is approved by the USCIS. Check with an immigration attorney who will better guide you on your qualifications for this visa.
The J-1 Visas are for those who are traveling to the US for the purpose of participating in the Department of State approved program for teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or receiving graduate medical education or training.
Some jobs that are qualified under the H-1 visa program also fit under J-1 exchange visitor visas, such as professors, research assistants, research scholars, etc.
Dependents for H1B visa holders
This may not sound right for all who possess the capability to come to the US on their educational qualifications but marrying an H1B visa holder will open your gate to enter the US on H-4 visas as dependents of an H1B visa holder.
Later, you can switch your visa to H1B visa if you get selected in the lottery in the next years. You have to keep in mind that your marriage should not be a fake arrangement to obtain the visa; otherwise, you enter into the risk of getting your future immigration benefits revoked by the USCIS.
What visa option should I go for?
This might be tough and confusing for you which visa option is best for you. You have to carefully assess the visa requirements and your qualification while deciding which visa is best for you.
For example – If you are an Australian citizen E-3 visa might be the best choice for you, or if you are from Canada or Mexico, you may opt to apply for a TN visa.
For a better assessment, it is always worthful to take advice from an immigration expert to utilize the very best option available for you.
How can Herman Legal Group help?
Are you worried about your options after not getting selected in the H1b lottery? You are not alone. Contact the Herman Legal Group. We are an award-winning immigration law firm founded in 1995 and experienced in all areas of immigration.
Our immigration lawyer will assess your case and determine other alternative visa options available for you based on your qualifications and merit. You can set up a consultation with one of our immigration attorneys by calling us at 1-800-808-4013 or 1-216-696-6170 or by booking online. Most of their meetings with clients and prospective clients are conducted online, via Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, Facetime, or Google Meet.