Work Visas: Not H-1B

Not all work-authorized, non-immigrant employees in the United States are on H-1B Visas. While H-1B status is the primary way, there are several other options. Your toolbox isn’t complete without some familiarity with these alternatives:

F-1 OPT: Students who recently graduated from a U.S. educational institution qualify for 12 months of Optional Practical Training. Extensions for an additional 17 months are available for some with Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM) degrees if the employer is registered with E-Verify. This authorization appears on an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) and does not require sponsorship.

J-1: Some of these programs permit work for a U.S. employer without the need for sponsorship. The Responsible Officer named on the DS-2019 can identify applicable limitations.

L: A foreign employee who worked for your company abroad for at least one year may qualify as an intracompany transfer, based on specialized knowledge (L-1B) or executive or managerial duties (L-1A). This requires sponsorship and can be challenging, but there is no cap.

TN: Available to Canadian and Mexican professionals with an offer of employment in one of the categories listed in Appendix 1603 of the North American Free Trade Agreement. It is often possible to arrange this type of visa at the border for minimal fees.

E-3: Available only to Australian professionals. Like the H-1B, requires a Labor Condition Application (LCA) and compliance with prevailing wage regulations. It may be possible to file either at a consulate or through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

H-1B1: Similar to E-3 but available to citizens of Singapore and Chile. Also requires an LCA and compliance with prevailing wage regulations.

There are several other possibilities, including H-2B, O, P, Q and R. Many choices!

Each visa classification comes with quirks and limitations. They vary in duration, in how they address spouses,
and whether workers in the status can pursue permanent residency.

Might one of these fit your candidate for a difficult-to-fill position? Is one of these an alternative for someone who didn’t get an H-1B? Call one of MSEC’s immigration lawyers to discuss the possibility in detail.

And if you’re really curious, come to “Alternative Temporary Work Authorizations – the Not H-1B,” one of our new series of Employment-Based Immigration Briefing Sessions, offered May 11, 2015 in Denver.