Once the US government finalized the Proclamation barring entry of new H1-B applicants into the United States after June 24, 2020, almost 665,000 potential non-immigrant visa holders have been impacted and left high and dry for the rest of 2020. This includes the 85,000 H1-Bs being issued for the FY 2021 lottery cap. Moreover, approximately 100,000 each of L1 and H4 visas, around 80,000 H2B visas and almost 300,000 J1 visa will now be withheld from being issued for this year due to this immigration restriction.
Almost two-thirds of the H-1B applications for 2020-2021’s H1-B lottery cap are from India, i.e. a total of 184,000 applications that will not be processed this year.
While this decision will impact a large number of tech companies, families trying to unite with a dependent visa as well as students coming on exchange programs, many are still scrambling to find an alternative.
What Are the Alternative Visa Options for Those Affected by The H1-B Entry Ban
- O-1 Visas
O-1 visa is for those who possess extraordinary ability or have secured an achievement of global fame. If you and your professional expertise can be highlighted to be unique in a specific field, you may qualify to enter the United States on a work visa and be allowed to work.
Since the O-1 visa has not been included in the proclamation, many H1-B, L1 and J1 visa beneficiaries can attempt to qualify for the O-1 visa as well.
- EB-5 Visa
EB-5 Visa Leads To a US Green Card
Here’s everything you need to know
If you are willing to invest in a business in the US and provide employment for at least 10 American citizens, you can explore the EB-5 visa. This investor visa has a minimum investment amount and is often available to many prospective companies and individuals who are willing to stay and work in the US. This further leads to a US permanent residency status and is extended to the primary beneficiary’s family as well.
- P Visas
The P visa allows for entertainers to come perform in the US for a limited time. This could be for one concert or a series of shows. The P visa can be access by both the main entertainer, athlete or their support staff like coaches, manages and event organizers.
- TN Visa
Based on the NAFTA/USMCA agreement, Mexican and Canadian nationals may enter and work on a non-immigrant work visa called the TN visa. Only certain professions are eligible for this and include STEAM careers like scientists, technical engineers, economists, architects, health professionals and people from the Academia.
Talk to your immigration lawyer to see if you and your profession qualify for the TN visa.
Also, please note, that Canadian citizens who enter the United States on an H, L or J visas are exempt from this entry ban.
- Work From Canada
While the inter-transfer L1 visa is included in the entry ban, some non-immigrants have the option of working for an American company from Canada. For this, the American company should have a functioning subsidiary in Canada wherein the worker can execute his jobs responsibilities.
This inter-corporate transfer option is available for some company sponsorships only the beneficiary may travel to the US on a B1, temporary business visa.
While the entry ban is until December 31, 2020, it could be revised and extended with little notice. All petitioners applying for the above alternatives should consult their immigration lawyer regarding validity and eligibility before exploring these.