The H-1B visa is one of the most in demand and popular employment visas for individuals seeking work authorization in the U.S. However, the H-1B is just one of a list of nonimmigrant visas available for those seeking temporary work authorization in the U.S. Below is a brief snapshot of four possible alternatives to the H-1B visa:
(1) Australian professional in a specialty occupation (E-3 Visa)
The E-3 visa for Australian professionals in a speciality occupation is available for those professionals who hold an Australian passport and are coming to the U.S. to work in a specialty occupation. Much like the H-1B visa, this visa requires the individual to hold a bachelor's degree in a specific field and that bachelor's degree must be required to successfully complete the job offered. Check out the main differences between the E-3 and H-1B here.
(2) NAFTA professional worker: Mexico, Canada (T-N Visa)
The TN nonimmigrant classification permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level.
Among the types of professionals who are eligible to seek admission as TN nonimmigrants are accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers. A full list of professions that may qualify for the TN visa can be viewed here.
(3) L-1 Visa for intracompany transferees
The L-1A nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.
To qualify for L-1 classification in this category, the employer must:
- Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
- Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1. While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.
(4) O-1 Visa: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.
To qualify for an O-1 visa, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.
Current Advantages of H-1B Alternatives
Employers and employees are encouraged to explore all visa options available. Although one visa option may sound like the best or only option, an employee may qualify for another visa option such as those listed above. In most cases, an employee may face less visa scrutiny, being able to secure an employment visa more efficiently. Avoiding annual visa cap limits may also be an attractive advantage that the above visa options may offer.
By Kaitlyn Garcia, J.D. | Immigration Attorney | Houston, Texas