Businesses have long relied on the H-1B Visa lottery for employees who need employment status in the United States. This is the most well-known temporary work visa program that allows employers in the U.S. to hire skilled professionals for specialty occupations. Strict quotas and a high number of applicants are pushing businesses away from the H-1B program, however.
Breaking Down the H-1B Quota
The program has a strict cap and spots quickly run out. Current law allows for 65,000 new H-1B petitions each fiscal year with 6,800 of those reserved for Singaporean and Chilean nationals (these individuals should apply for an H-1B1 visa). There are an additional 20,000 H-1B slots available for individuals with U.S. advanced degrees.
For FY 2024, the H-1B lottery procured over 781,000 registrations – meaning applicants have less than a 10% chance of being selected. This is a huge reduction from previous numbers where applicants had roughly a 50% chance. So, what are companies doing?
Companies Opt to Sponsor Green Cards or Other Alternatives to H-1B Visas
Due to the overwhelming number of applicants and strict quota, many companies are opting for alternatives. One option is to sponsor employees for a green card based on labor certification instead of going through the H-1B lottery system. Employees eligible for STEM OPT receive a three-year employment authorization which is longer than the current processing time to get a green card with the exception of individuals born in India or China.
Other alternatives employers should consider include:
- Apply for an E-1 or E-2 visa for those who are from a treaty country
- Apply for an E-3 visa for those who are from Australia
- Apply for a TN visa for those from Canada or Mexico
- Work overseas for a U.S.-based employer while seeking an L-1 visa after at least a year
As noted above, the H-1B1 program provides a specific alternative to the lottery system for Singaporean and Chilean nationals. The program limits nationals of Chile to 1,400 visas and 5,400 for nationals of Singapore.
Each of these alternatives provides a pathway for foreign nationals to secure the right to work in the United States without having to spend the money, resources, and time on a lower than 10% chance in the H-1B lottery program.
At Valvo & Associates, our goal is to connect individuals and businesses to the proper immigration programs that fulfill their needs. We are experts in business immigration law and are prepared to help you and your team through each of these programs. Contact our offices to tap into our expertise.