Every March, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sets the stage for a thrilling lottery, determining the allocation of H-1B slots to meet the 85,000 visa annual cap.
But as the dust settles from this year’s H-1B lottery, a pressing question arises:
How do we navigate the challenge posed by overwhelming registrations against a backdrop of limited slots? How will employers, facing the likelihood of minimal or no lottery selections, chart their course in this competitive immigration landscape?
Let’s delve into the realm of possibilities and explore the future landscape for employers and their critical employees in this blog.
Table of contents
Options for Employees Not Selected in the Lottery: H1B Visa Alternatives
O-1A Visa: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
The O-1A visa stands as a nonimmigrant option tailored for those demonstrating exceptional ability or accomplishment in fields such as science, arts, education, business, athletics, or within the motion picture and television industry under the broader O-1B classification.
Employers petitioning for this visa must substantiate the applicant’s eligibility by providing evidence that meets the stringent criteria set for the O-1 visa.
O-1A vs. H1B Visa
The O-1A visa is regarded as a viable alternative to the H-1B visa, especially for established professionals in their respective fields. Unlike the H-1B visa, the O-1A visa isn’t subject to a cap, liberating applicants from strict numerical limitations imposed by the government.
Moreover, the O-1 visa can be granted for up to three years initially, with opportunities for extension in one-year increments without any constraints on the number of extensions.
To fulfill the extraordinary ability standard for the O-1 visa, applicants must demonstrate “sustained national or international acclaim.” Additionally, key staff members meeting specific criteria can qualify for entry under the O-2 visa, benefiting professionals accompanying individuals with extraordinary abilities.
O-1 vs. P-1 Visas
Both the O-1 and P-1 visas cater to individuals exhibiting extraordinary prowess in various fields like arts, sciences, business, education, athletics, and the TV/motion picture industry.
However, the P-1 visa necessitates recognition at an international level. Athletes seeking the P-1 visa must furnish proof of specific criteria, including participation in U.S. sports leagues or international games with a national team, substantiated by documentation from media outlets or industry experts.
Despite their similarities, the P-1 visa limits dependents’ ability to work during their stay in the U.S., requiring them to apply for separate work visas if desired.
L1 Visa for Temporary Workers
The L-1A or L-1B visas serve companies with U.S. offices aiming to temporarily transfer employees.
Eligibility for the L-1A visa mandates the petitioning employer to demonstrate the beneficiary’s one-year work history within the last three years in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity in the foreign office, branch, or subsidiary.
L1 Visa vs. H1B Visa
Distinct from the H-1B visa, the L-1 visa encompasses two subcategories: L-1A for managers and executives and L-1B for individuals with specialized knowledge.
The L-1 visa targets employees working for a foreign branch of a U.S.-based company or those engaging in U.S. operations on behalf of the foreign employer. Notably, the prevailing wage requirement, essential in the H-1B visa, is not mandatory for the L-1 visa.
Spouse employment provisions align with both visas, allowing them to apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs).
H-2B Visa for Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers
The H-2B program facilitates U.S. employers in filling temporary nonagricultural positions.
It encompasses a diverse range of skilled and unskilled job roles, from entertainers to ski instructors. Employers must validate the lack of qualified U.S. workers for the job, ensure no negative impact on wages for U.S. workers, and establish the position’s temporary nature to qualify for this nonimmigrant classification.
H-2B Visa vs. H1B Visa
Differences between the H-2B and H-1B visas lie in the types of qualifying occupations and extension availability.
While the H-2B visa permits extensions totaling three years, the H-1B can be extended for a cumulative six years. Notably, the H-1B visa allows for dual intent, facilitating a path to permanent residency, unlike the H-2B, which lacks this provision.
TN Visa for Canadian and Mexican Professionals
The TN visa, crafted under NAFTA, caters to Canadian and Mexican professionals aiming to temporarily work in the U.S. in NAFTA-approved professional occupations.
Its indefinite extension possibility makes it an attractive choice compared to the H-1B visa, which is subject to a six-year limit.
TN Visa vs. H1B Visa
The TN visa’s indefinite extensions surpass the H-1B’s limitations, providing more flexibility for eligible Canadian and Mexican professionals.
However, it’s exclusive to nationals of these countries, unlike the broader eligibility of the H-1B visa.
The Next Step!
After the FY 2024 H1B visa lottery, USCIS completed its first round of selections and notified applicants about their status by March 27, 2023.
For those whose status shifted to “Selected,” congratulations! However, if your status remains “Submitted,” there’s more information about subsequent steps and potential alternative visa options.
Understanding Your FY 2024 H1B Visa Lottery Selection Status
By March 31, 2022, USCIS sent notifications regarding the FY 2024 H1B lottery. Employers will witness a status change from “Submitted” to “Selected” in their USCIS accounts if their applicants were chosen.
Within the “Action” section, employers can access and download the H-1B Lottery selection notice, initiating the H-1B petition process.
What to Do Next if Not Chosen in the FY 2024 H1B Visa Lottery
For those whose status remains “Submitted,” there’s still hope. Not being selected in the initial lottery doesn’t necessarily mean exclusion, as USCIS often holds additional selections referred to as the “H-1B Reserve Registration.”
This process depends on the number of unfiled H-1B Petitions by the June 30 deadline.
When Does the H-1B Reserve Registration Occur?
The occurrence of the H-1B Reserve Registration usually takes place in July, contingent on the volume of unfiled H-1B Petitions resulting from the March lottery round. Additional selectees are typically notified by the end of August.
In the competitive realm of limited H-1B visas, not being selected prompts exploration into alternative pathways. Diverse options like the O-1A, L-1, H-2B, and TN visas offer potential avenues for employers and skilled professionals. Remaining proactive and exploring these alternative routes ensures opportunities amidst visa constraints.
As USCIS potentially conducts further selections, hopefuls can navigate this evolving landscape, exploring viable options to pursue their American dreams. Adaptability and exploring alternative visa paths stand pivotal for employers and employees amid this dynamic immigration landscape.