The typical business immigration attorney is very familiar with the concept of H-1B applicants failing to score their visas due to not being picked in the annual lottery. Whether or not the current lottery system is the best way to determine winners and losers, those who do not get their visas often feel hopeless and helpless. But there are other options for lottery losers.
Visas come in all shapes and sizes, so to speak. The H-1B visa is limited in terms of the number awarded each year because it is considered a specialty visa. But it’s not unusual for H-1B lottery losers to be eligible for other types of visas. Just because an applicant does not get past the lottery doesn’t mean their chances of coming to the U.S. are completely lost.
Only 85K Visas Annually
Immigration attorneys are quick to point out that the number of H-1B visas awarded annually is not very high compared to the total number of visas issued. Federal law limits H-1Bs to 85,000 annually. Of that number, 20,000 are reserved for workers with master’s degrees.
In the unlikely event that there are fewer applications than available lottery slots, every applicant in that particular year would be awarded a visa. Trust us when we say that this doesn’t happen very often – if it has ever happened at all. Nonetheless, workers need to get their applications in just to be considered for the lottery.
What to Do After the Lottery
Annual lottery winners are good to go. They get their visas and start work right away. As for lottery losers, it is a matter of figuring out where a worker stands and what other options might be available.
As an immigration law firm with many years of experience, we have advised countless numbers of H-1B visa applicants on the next course of action following a losing lottery. Here is just a small sample of the possibilities:
- B-1 in Lieu of H-1B – The B-1 visa is similar to the H-1B. It is designed for workers in specialty occupations who need to come to the U.S. to work as an official employee of a foreign company. Some rejected applicants are eligible for a B-1 in lieu of the H-1B.
- L-1 Intracompany Transfer – The L-1 can be utilized by foreign workers needing to transfer to the U.S. to work in an American office owned and operated by a foreign company. Certain conditions, like the specialty occupation requirement, apply.
- Country-specific work visa, such as TN, H-1B1, or E-3.
- J-1 visa for interns and trainees.
- F-1 visa for students, who can work while being enrolled in school.
- Investor visa, such as E-2.
There are still other options that time and space do not allow us to discuss in this particular post. Perhaps they will be topics of future posts. At any rate, the main thing to understand is that there are other options to look into when H-1B visa applicant doesn’t make it through the annual lottery. Losing out on the lottery does not necessarily mean giving up.
We Are Here to Help
Graham Adair specializes in U.S. immigration law. We are immigration attorneys who give our full attention to assisting employers and foreign-born workers as they navigate immigration laws and policies. We are here to help.
If you are an employer or an H-1B applicant needing advice after losing out on the annual lottery, do not hesitate to contact us.
There may be other avenues we can utilize to get around H-1B limits. There are no guarantees, but there are also no solutions if you don’t at least try.