7 alternatives to the H-1B visa

Immigration, Rights

Co-written by Mike Allen, immigration lawyer and founding attorney of Advenienz Legal PLLC.

Waiting to find out if your petition made it through the H-1B visa lottery can be nerve-wracking. But the good news is that for those petitioners who are not selected, you still have options.

Looking for the basics? Check out our “Ultimate guide to the H-1B visa and new H-1B spouse visa.”

7 alternatives to the H-1B visa

For those who lose out in the lottery, there are a number of possible of alternatives.

1. F-1 student visa

Current F-1 students should explore the possibility of continuing their studies, looking into internships, or taking advantage of possible off-campus employment. It is critical for F-1 students on Optional Practical Training (OPT) to avoid significant gaps in employment. Also, some STEM degree graduates may be able to seek a 17-month STEM extension of their OPT status, to bridge the gap caused by the H-1B cap. Learn more.

2. J-1 exchange visitor visa

A J-1 exchange visitor visa can be a possibility for an individual interested in one of the qualifying programs. Learn more. 

3. TN professional visa for Canadians and Mexicans

Canadian and Mexican nationals should explore TN professional visas, which were created by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Learn more.

4. L-1A or L-1B visa transfer

If the U.S. company sponsoring an H-1B applicant has foreign operations that employed the worker abroad, an L-1 intra-company transfer could be possible. Learn more about L-1As or L-1Bs.

5. B-1 visa

Another possibility if there is a foreign company involved is a B-1 visa in lieu of H-1B visa. The foreign company must be the employer and care must be taken to avoid a status violation. Learn more.

6. H-3 training visa

An H-3 visa could be appropriate if the employer has a qualifying training program. Learn more.

7. Diversity visa lottery

Finally, consider throwing your hat in for the 2016 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program lottery (yes, another lottery) that opens on May 5, 2015. Check out the FY 2016 instructions to learn which countries qualify. Learn more.

Learn more about H-1B visas

Visit Avvo to read more guides and tips about the H1-B visa and other U.S. visas. And visit the USCIS website for updates about the H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Cap Season.

Do you have questions about your application? Use Avvo Advisor to speak to a top-reviewed immigration attorney within minutes. Just select your location, choose “immigration” and purchase your session for $39, and an immigration lawyer will call you within minutes. Download the Avvo Advisor App and, for a limited time only, use promo code Nakedlaw to get a free Advisor session.

Looking to hire an immigration attorney to handle your case, start to finish? Use Avvo’s lawyer directory to find the immigration lawyer who’s right for you.

Mike Allen is the founding attorney of Advenienz Legal PLLC and of counsel to Puget Sound Legal. Mike focuses on U.S. immigration law, with an emphasis on business immigration. He assists public and private growth companies and entrepreneurs with relocation strategies for bringing talented workers to the United States on a temporary and permanent basis.