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In the Midst of H-1B "Dilemma"....There is Good News - Other Work Visa Options

Unfortunately, the H-1B visa cap has become irrelevant in today's demand for foreign national professionals in the U.S. market place. Therefore, it is essential to understand other U.S. Immigration visa options to authorize employment in the United States.

As our law firm's team of business and employment immigration lawyers frantically worked on filings for this past 2016 fiscal, it was apparent the H-1B visa numbers would cap out quickly and filed promptly on behalf of clients April 1st. We never imagined that over 200,000 visas would be competing for only 65,000 (additional 20,000 for Masters degree only) in a lottery. However, there is good news as other work visa options do indeed exist!

Below we give a short overview of a few other work visa options to consider. Most other work visa options require that U.S. business owners and organizations have a business plan which incorporates the hiring of foreign nationals, and/or opening of branch offices overseas well in advance of the actual need.

- L visa. If an organization's business plan envisions setting up an office abroad within the next 1 to 5 years, this opens a whole new world of work visas. L visas require that a foreign national have worked abroad for a U.S. company's foreign branch or affiliate for at least one year in the immediate year preceding filing of an L visa application. (Note: Working for a non-U.S. based company abroad for 1 year prior to application is also acceptable in limited cases). A four year degree is not required under the L visa option in most cases.

- O visa. If a talented foreign national abroad has caught your attention through social media, referral, main stream media, or throughout your travels; the O visa is also a work visa option. Alternatively, if you are a talented foreign national and your talent has been recognized nationally or internationally in areas such as the arts, business, science then an O visa may be well suited.

- E visa. If a U.S. employer seeks to work with a skilled foreign national and the organization is flexible to partner in an "investor" capacity, the U.S. employer and foreign national employee may be "teamed" to work together. The foreign national and U.S. employer would need to consult with Immigration counsel to understand capitalization by the foreign national and the stringent legal requirements. There is no minimum amount of money needed. Rather the business plan has to be realistic for what the U.S. employer and foreign national investor are seeking to accomplish in a work project or joint venture.

- H-3 visa. This visa allows a U.S. employer to train a foreign national whom they desire to work with. Once on an H-3 visa, the foreign national would be in a structured training program which involves practical work training that does not displace U.S. workers. The H-3 employee would then have the essential skills and training to return home and work abroad with a U.S. company. While this visa does not allow the trained employee to remain and work here in the U.S. immediately (there are exceptions not explained here), the U.S. trained foreign national now has the ability to "telecommute" from his home country.

The above visas are highly complex and require an experienced AILA immigration attorney. This blog article has been written in a simplified and general form, without the detailed regulation requirements for your easy reading. To understand more about U.S. work visa options we invite and encourage you to contact one of our AILA attorneys at for a consultation.

Note to our readers: Other names for visas mentioned above include: E-2 treaty visa, L-1A, L-1B, Intracompany transfer visas, Training visas, U.S. Work visas, business visa, Additional Work Visa options not discussed here are B-2 business visas, H-2 visas seasonal visas, OPT, Occupational practical training, F-1 student, H-1B fiscal year 2016, Cap Gap and Workers permit.

Vassell & LeeRC Law Group
Members of the American Immigration Lawyers' Association ("AILA")

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