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H-1B Alternatives for Nationals of Certain Countries

Avoid the Annual H-1B Cap

As demand for new H-1B visas grows each H-1B season, every April tens of thousands of people wait to find out if their H-1B petition was selected from the lottery for adjudication. It is no secret that the statutory limit for H-1B visas severely underrepresents the need for foreign workers in the United States.

Having filed thousands of H-1B petitions, The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates is no stranger to the anxiety employers and foreign workers experience when seeking an H-1B visa. In order to provide you with peace of mind, we have compiled a list of alternatives to filing under the H-1B annual cap limit. U.S. employers, foreign workers, students, visitors, investors, foreign nationals of certain nations, and those at the tops of their fields may find that they qualify for a different and maybe even better option than the H-1B cap-subject visa and can bypass the anxiety of H-1B cap season altogether.

If you are interested in learning what alternatives are available to you, contact us today to speak with one of our experienced immigration attorneys. We have offices in Columbus Ohio, Cleveland Ohio, Southfield Michigan and Washington, D.C.

H-1B Alternatives for Nationals of Certain Countries

There are excellent H-1B alternatives for nationals from certain countries. These alternatives are often less expensive, quicker, and may permit longer validity periods than the H-1B visa. If you are a national of one of the countries below or if you are an employer seeking to hire a national from one of the nations below, contact The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates to learn which option is best for you.

Canada & Mexico (TN)

Pursuant to the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), foreign nationals from Canada or Mexico may be eligible to work in the United States under the TN nonimmigrant classification. In order to be eligible for this category, you must be a national of Canada or Mexico who is seeking to temporarily enter the United States to work in one of the professions listed on the NAFTA List of Professions.

Some of the many careers on the NAFTA List of Professions are:

  • Accountants
  • Architects
  • Computer systems analysts
  • Engineers
  • Lawyers
  • Medical professionals
  • Scientists
  • Teachers

In addition, you must have been offered a temporary position in the United States in one of the NAFTA professions and you must be qualified for the position.

This category is a highly desirable alternative to the H-1B for several reasons. First, there is no annual statutory limit for the TN category. Any qualified Canadian or Mexican national is eligible for entry to the United States under the TN category. In addition, while your stay must be temporary, there is no limit on the length of stay in the United States. A TN visa is issued in three-year increments and can be renewed indefinitely.

Another benefit of the TN over the H-1B is that it is much easier to apply under the TN category. In fact, most Canadian nationals do not even have to apply for a TN visa at a U.S. consulate prior to seeking admission at the U.S. border. Instead, Canadian nationals may simply present the required documentation to the Customs and Border Patrol Officer and be admitted at the port of entry. Although Mexican nationals must apply for a TN visa at a U.S. consulate prior to seeking admission to the United States, the process is still much easier than filing for an H-1B.

Mexican and Canadian nationals seeking entry to the United States under the TN nonimmigrant visa category do not need to file an application or petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services nor is there a prevailing wage requirement. This means that not only is the process simpler and much quicker than an H-1B, there are also no excessive filing fees associated with the TN visa.

Lastly, the position does not have to be a “specialty occupation.” While several of the positions on the NAFTA List of Professions would also be considered a specialty occupation, there is no burden of proving that the position is specialty; the profession needs only be included on the NAFTA List of Professionals.

Cheaper, easier, faster, longer and less stress than the H-1B – if you are eligible for TN nonimmigrant classification and want to make your life simpler, contact us to learn more.

Chile & Singapore (H-1B1)

Under the Chile and Singapore Free Trade Agreements, there are 6,800 H-1B1 nonimmigrant visas set aside specifically for foreign nationals from Chile and Singapore who have been offered temporary employment in a specialty occupation in the United States. Currently, there are 5,400 H-1B1 visas available for Chilean nationals and 1,400 H-1B1 visas available to Singaporean nationals.

In order to qualify for an H-1B1, the Chilean and Singaporean national must be coming to the United States to engage in a specialty occupation or an occupation specified in the trade agreements. Specifically, Chilean and Singaporean nationals may enter the United States to work as disaster relief claims adjustors. Chilean nationals may also seek employment in the United States as agricultural managers and physical therapists.

In addition, the beneficiary must be coming to the United States for temporary employment and be able to overcome the presumption of dual intent. This means that the beneficiary must be able to show that, at the time of filing, (s)he does not intend to seek permanent residence in the United States.

Despite the fact that there is an annual numerical limitation and the fees are the same as H-1B filing fees, the H-1B1 is an attractive option for Chilean and Singaporean Nations because, unlike the H-1B visa, beneficiaries of H-1B1 petitions do not need to first obtain approval from the USCIS. While petitioners must still submit a labor certification application to the Department of Labor, beneficiaries may go directly to a U.S. consulate and apply for new H-1B1 classification.

If you are a national of Chile or Singapore or if you’re an employer seeking to hire a national of Chile or Singapore, the experienced immigration attorneys at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates are ready to assist you in obtaining an H-1B1 visa.

Australia (E-3)

Australian nationals seeking an alternative to the H-1B visa may wish to seek entry to the United States under the E-3 Visa Category. Congress has set aside 10,500 E-3 visas each year for Australian nationals who wish to be temporarily employed in a specialty occupation in the United States. Austrian nationals considering the E-3 visa option must have received a valid employment offer in an “H-1B specialty occupation” from a U.S. employer and must be qualified for the position. Under the E-3 visa, qualified Australian nationals are granted an initial period of stay for two years and may apply for an unlimited number of two-year extensions. However, the employment in the United States must be temporary and applicants must be able to overcome the presumption of dual intent by proving their intent to depart from the United States at the expiration of status.

Not only are Australian nationals able to bypass the H-1B cap season by seeking entry under the E-3 visa, but Australian nationals currently in Australia may directly apply for entry under the E-3 visa at the U.S. consulate in Australia. Although still required to have a certified LCA, by avoiding the filing fees and time associated with filing an H-1B petition with the USCIS, Australian nationals and their U.S. employers are able to save time and money by not having to file a petition with the USCIS. Keep in mind that Australian nationals who are already in the United States must file a petition with the USCIS. However, the fee is still lower than the fees associated with the H-1B. Furthermore, unlike H-1B dependents, E-3 spouses are eligible for employment authorization.

To learn more about E-3 eligibility requirements, contact us today to consult with one of our experienced immigration attorneys.

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