5 Handy Alternatives to the H-1B Visa

If you have an employer willing to sponsor your visa application, the H-1B Visa can be a great immigration option. It works well for professionals who want to work in the United States, and for American companies that need to find highly specialized knowledge in a foreign employee. Unfortunately, US Congress has maintained a “cap” or limit on the annual number of H-1Bs that may be issued each year. The cap currently rests at 65,000 visas per year, with an extra 20,000 available for applicants with advanced university degrees. Because of the high demand, the limit is usually reached within a few days from the first filing date (April 1st of each year). Whether your application has been denied or you are simply researching your options, you should take a look at the following visa alternatives.

  1. For NAFTA Professionals (Canadian and Mexican Citizens)

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was created, the United States has shared a special economic relationship with Canada and Mexico. With an offer of employment, citizens of those two countries can seek TN Visas for temporary entry into the US. TN classification shares many similarities with the H-1B—without the maximum cap. It allows American companies to hire qualified professionals like accountants, engineers, scientists, lawyers, and teachers.

  1. For Employees of Multinational Companies

If you’re a manager, executive, or highly skilled employee of a multinational company, you may qualify for the L-1A or L-1B Visa. With the L-1 Visa for intracompany transferees, your company can transfer you from an overseas office to a US business, as long they share a parent, subsidiary, or affiliate relationship. You must have at least one year of experience with the foreign office.

  1. For People with Extraordinary Achievements

It’s not easy for just anyone to meet the O-1 Visa’s criteria, but if you’re at the very top of your field, it’s an excellent alternative to the H-1B. For the O-1A, you must prove that you have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, usually with national or international recognition. Alternatively, you can get an O-1B by demonstrating a record of extraordinary achievement in the film or television industry, again with widespread acclaim. You must also be coming to the US to work in your field of achievement.

  1. For Cultural Exchange Visitors

If you want to participate in a cultural exchange program, you may be better served by a J-1 Visa or a Q-1 Visa. Employers may use the J-1 to provide new hires with on-the-job training or an internship position, but the visa can also be used by students, teachers, or research assistants who have signed up with an approved program. Q-1 programs allow you to receive training or employment while sharing your cultural traditions with the US.

  1. For Treaty Traders or Investors

If your home country has a treaty agreement with the US, you may be eligible for an E Visa. You may use an E-1 Visa to engage in trade with the US on behalf of your company, or an E-2 to manage an investment you made in a US enterprise. To qualify, you must have specialized skills and an essential position in your company. Any number of E Visas may be issued each year.

If you’re not sure which option is right for you, or if you want to explore other alternatives, you should speak with a knowledgeable immigration attorney. Sánchez-Roig Law Firm, P.A. is here to help you with your immigration needs. Call us today, and we will work diligently to give you the best possible chance at a successful visa application.