Alternatives to H-1B visa

In light of the increase in demand for H-1B visas over the past several years, employers and foreign nationals should also be aware of other work visa options. A few possibilities that are not subject to annual quotas include:

  • TN visas - available to nationals of Canada and Mexico;
  • E-3 visas - available to nationals of Australia;
  • H-1B1 visas - available for nationals of Chile and Singapore (are subject to a quotabut that quota is rarely met);
  • E visas - E-1 treaty trader and E-2 treaty investor visas are available for nationals of a number of countries (full list here);
  • F-1 student visas - F-1 students with a degree in a STEM field may be eligible under the new STEM OPT rules that permit work authorization for up to 3 years following graduation;
  • J-1 visas - available for interns or trainees in a variety of work categories if sponsored by a qualified J-1 entity, including umbrella sponsorship agencies;
  • L-1 visas - available to managers, executives or those with specialized knowledge who have worked abroad for at least 1 year within the past 3 years for a company abroad related as a parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of a U.S. company;
  • O-1 visas - available for persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. 

In addition, employers and foreign nationals may want to consider cap-exempt H-1B visas, which are available if the beneficiary will be employed at an institution of higher education or affiliated non-profit, or concurrently employed by a cap-exempt employer and a private employer. Some universities are assisting in this process by opening up incubator space on-campus, allowing cap-subject employers to station their employees at colleges and universities. This model is known as Global Entrepreneur In Residence ("GEIR") programs, and has become very valuable in the past several years due to the limited number of H-1B visas and the high demand for them. For more information about any of these visa categories or GEIR options, please contact us at