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What Are Alternatives to the H-1B Visa?

Posted by Kripa Upadhyay | Apr 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

For many employers, building a successful team means leveraging the best talent in your field, regardless of where they live. The past decade has seen thousands of businesses strengthen their workforce by hiring qualified individuals who reside outside of the United States. In many cases, an employer needs to sponsor their new hire through the H-1B nonimmigrant visa, but this is not always a possibility.

alternatives to the h1b visa

The demand for international talent is high, and many businesses are turning toward sponsoring employees from around the world to increase the capabilities of their teams. As a result of the application cap for H-1B nonimmigrant visas, employers are having to turn toward different methods to ensure that their new hire can work legally in the United States. 

Understanding H-1B Visas and Application Caps

When a business decides to hire employees outside of the country, they must determine the length of time that those workers will be performing their job. The H-1B visa allows an international employee to legally work in the U.S. for up to six years if sponsored by their employer. 

In the United States, only 65,000 H-1B nonimmigrant visas are administered per year for workers seeking temporary employment. This limited capacity is often filled up early in the year, causing difficulty for many businesses looking to boost the number of experienced international employees on their team. 

Additional Visa Options and Solutions

Fortunately for both employers and international employees, there are opportunities to apply for different visas in addition to other solutions that may be available for certain professions. Some of the most common alternatives for the H-1B visa include:

  • B-1 Visa: Used in place of the H-1B when a temporary employee's salary, benefits, or payments will only come from an overseas source with which your company is affiliated. 
  • Treaty NAFTA (TN) Visa: Professionals from Mexico or Canada in specific fields, such as accountants, attorneys, scientists, and engineers, can temporarily enter the U.S. for work for three years with a possible extension of another three years after that time.
  • E-3 Visa: Similar to the TN visa, this allows for professionals from Australia to temporarily work in the U.S. for three years with a possible extension.

These visa options may be available for some businesses, but not every business will be eligible. Many companies might still search for alternative methods of obtaining legal employment for their international or nonimmigrant employees that will be a better fit for their specific circumstances. 

Programs and Work Visas 

Although they are similar to the previously mentioned alternatives, a work visa has a different set of requirements than the B-1, TN, or E-3 visas, especially when they are utilized for specific circumstances and professions. This can include:

  • O Visas for Individual(s) with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement: For those with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or extraordinary achievements in the motion picture and television fields, demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, as well as anyone providing essential services to support that individual.
  • P-1 Visas for Individual(s) or Team Athlete(s), or Member(s) of an Entertainment Group: For those performing at a specific athletic competition as an athlete or member of an entertainment group with internationally recognized sustained performance, as well as anyone providing essential services to support that individual or group.
  • P-2 Visas for Artist(s) or Entertainer(s) (Individual or Group): For those performing under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and an organization in another country, as well as anyone providing essential services to support that individual or group.
  • P-3 Visas for Artist(s) or Entertainer(s) (Individual or Group): For those performing, teaching, and/or coaching under a program that is significant to their culture, including a traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic presentation, as well as anyone providing essential services to support that individual or group.

If you are still unsure about how to approach the process of obtaining legal documentation for one of your international employees to work temporarily in the United States, contact an attorney that understands the legal requirements and complications of immigration law like the reputable team at Orbit Law in Seattle.

Call an Experienced Seattle Immigration Attorney Today

Employers looking to hire international talent for their business may feel overwhelmed by the challenges that come with applying to sponsor an employee or complete the necessary paperwork for visa submissions before the cap is met. If you find yourself in this position, you need the help of a skilled immigration attorney in Seattle who will work to find the solution that's right for you and your employee. 

Here at Orbit Law, our team is highly trained in international immigration laws and protocols, and we pride ourselves on dedicating our years of experience to each case we receive. We offer services in a variety of languages for the comfort and convenience of our clients, including English, Hindi, Nepali, Punjabi, Spanish, and Urdu. 

Call us today at (206) 623-3352 or submit a contact form online to schedule a consultation with one of our expert immigration attorneys in Seattle, WA.

About the Author

Kripa Upadhyay

Kripa Upadhyay Founder/Attorney [email protected] EDUCATION Seattle University School of Law, Seattle, WA, Juris Doctor (JD)  May 2007 ADMISSIONS Washington State Bar Association: Admitted May 2008 U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Washington: Admitted 2009 U.S...


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