In recent years, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has implemented a program whereby a randomized lottery determines which applicants will be eligible for H1B cap petitions. The initial selection process for fiscal year 2022 has now come to an end. If your name was not selected in this lottery, what can you do?
Fortunately, there are still many other options that may work for your situation:
Temporary work visas
Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for any of the following work visas:
- L1 visa: This could be an option for you if you are working for a company with offices in the U.S. and abroad.
- TN visa: You may be eligible for this option if you are a citizen of Mexico or Canada.
- E visa: This visa applies to Australian nationals who are specialty occupation workers.
- H1B1 visa: This visa applies to Singaporean or Chilean nationals who are specialty occupation workers.
- O1 visa: This visa applies to people with demonstrated “extraordinary ability” in science, education, business or athletics.
There may also be other temporary visas that fit your situation. For instance:
- B1 visa: This visa would allow you to enter the country for certain purposes, including attending conferences or conducting research.
- B2 visa: This visa would allow you to remain in the U.S. for six months. Under this visa, you would be able to enroll in recreational courses, but you could not attend courses that earn you credits toward a degree.
- H4 visa: You may be eligible for this visa if you have a spouse with a valid H-1B visa.
- F1 visa: This is a student visa that would enable you to continue your studies – but does not automatically grant you work authorization.
- F1 visa – Optional Practical Training (OPT): This visa could be an option for you if you have already completed your studies. This is a 12-month visa that allows you to remain in the U.S. to work in a field related to your degree.
- F1 visa – STEM OPT: If you have a degree in science, technology, engineering or math, and you’ve already used the above F-1 OPT visa, this visa would enable you to extend your stay in the U.S. for an additional 24 months.
- F1 visa – Curricular Practical Training (CPT): This visa gives you a 12-month work authorization for work that is integral to your degree program.
Applying for a permanent visa may be an option for you, if you have a qualifying circumstance:
- K1 visa: If you become engaged to an American citizen, you may be eligible to apply for this fiancé visa – which would be a pathway to permanent residency.
- K3 visa: Similar to the K-1 visa, this is a visa for spouses of American citizens.
- Permanent employment: If you receive a promise of future employment, you may be eligible to apply for a green card. This can be an option regardless of whether you are currently in the U.S. or abroad.
- National Interest Waiver: If you are pursuing employment in an area or project that is of national importance to the U.S., you may be eligible for this option.
- EB1A visa: Similar to the nonimmigrant O visa, this is a permanent visa for individuals with proven extraordinary abilities that meet certain qualifications.
The immigration process is extraordinarily complex, and any small misstep could lead to the denial of your petition. Attempting to navigate the process alone is unadvisable. An experienced immigration attorney can help you weigh each option carefully, pick the option that’s best for your situation and even assist you in the application process. Professional guidance in this process can make all the difference.