H-1B, or not H-1B, that is the question…
How you can come to work into the United States or to do business in the country without investing at least half a million dollars? Well, the answer is simple – look at temporary worker visas and other types of business-related visas. In that context, the H-1B is the queen of temporary worker visas.
A short description of H-1BThis is a non-immigrant specialty occupation visa allowing you accepting temporary employment within your profession in the United States. Also, it allows your spouse and children less than twenty-one years age to enter into the United States and remain in the country for the duration of your H-1B period.
The key disadvantage is that the H-1B is subjected to the congressionally mandated annual cap of 85,000 in total. Considering that in April 2016 the USCIS received over 236,000 applications and in April 2017 - near 200,000, it is easy to calculate that chances to be selected were 1:3 approximately.
What can you do if you were not selected for H-1B? At least, consider alternative types of business-related visas.
L-1: For Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager (L-1A) or Specialized Knowledge (L-1B)The L-1 is available for executives, managers, and employees with specialized skills to be transferred from their foreign company to a U.S. subsidiary or affiliated company to perform temporary work. A prospective L-1 visa holder must have been employed be the foreign entity for at least one year during the three year period immediate prior to filing the petition as an executive, manager or specialized skill worker (i.e., a national cuisine chef).
More importantly, being a "dual intent" visa, the L-1 might be a starting point for obtaining legal permanent residency.
Example: A foreign company decided to enter U.S. market and sent one of its top-managers to develop business.
O-1: For Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or AchievementThe O-1A is a non-immigrant visa for individuals possessing extraordinary abilities or achievement in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry for whom the O-1B is designed). Here you will find more about the O-1.
Being a "dual intent" visa, O-1 might be a place to start to successfully petition for the EB-1, the first preference category for U.S. employment-based permanent residency.
Examples: a tennis coach whose athletes achieved tremendous sport results; an entrepreneur established a successful enterprise; a scientist whose publications being cited within the scientific community; a marital artist won numerous sport titles and championships.
P-1/P-3P-1/P-3 visa categories are non-immigrant visas allowing the above mentioned individuals enter the United States and remain there for the duration of a particular event, competition, or performance.
As with the O-1, in order to get the P-1 petition approved, it should be proved that a prospective employee satisfies at least three out of six specified criteria (there are separate criteria for athletes).
The P-3 is for employees entering the United States to be part of a culturally unique program (e.g., a Jamaican reggae band coming in the United States to perform a concert tour).
E-1/E-2: For Treaty Traders and InvestorsThese types of visas allow owners/co-owners of American enterprises to remain in the United States:
(1) For the E-1 - to direct an American business and develop trade between the United States and a treaty country, or
(2) For the E-2 - to direct finances invested into an American enterprise.
One of the key requirements - you must be a citizen of one of these countries.
The E-2 might serve as a step stone for getting the EB-5, the fifth preference category for U.S. employment-based residency.
H-3: For Trainees or Special Education VisitorsThe H-3 might be available for those invited to participate in training programs conducting in the United States. These programs might be organized by an American branch of a foreign-based entity or a third-party American company. Most importantly that an employee cannot obtain the same training in their country of origin.
Example: before a project launch, a global company gathers its foreign employees to conduct a training in the company's American office.
R-1: For Religious WorkersIn case of the R-1, religious workers may enter the United States to perform their religious duties with a non-profit religious organization. The R-1 beneficiary must prove their affiliation to a particular religion at least two years immediate prior to filing the petition.
After two years working in the United States, there is an opportunity for them to petition for the EB-4, the forth preference category for U.S. employment-based permanent residency.
Examples: priests, religious instructors, religious interpreters.
B-1: For Short-Term Business VisitorsFinally, there is the B-1 allowing you enter the United States for short-term business visits.
FurthermoreThere is NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) for professionals - citizens of Canada or Mexico, and E-3 - for citizens of Australia.
As you can see, the H-1B does have alternatives.