The H1b quota has been met and came as a surprise as just a bit earlier, there were thousands available. However, many incoming cases were most likely not logged into the CIS computers and thus unaccounted for. Just before Thanksgiving, the CIS announced on November 23, 2011 that on November 22 , 2011 they had met the statutory cap of 65,000 for this year [which officially is Fiscal Year 2012]. Moreover, as of the 19th of October, 2011, the CIS received enough petitions to meet the 20,000 quota for people under the ‘advanced degree’ exemption. What’s next? Well, there is an option that some of my clients consider.
First, let’s preface. The H1b is the work visa for people with a degree or the equivalent. The government defines a position that requires a degree as a ‘Specialty Occupation’. If you do not have a degree you can trade 3 years’ experience in a qualifying field for a year of university training, and yes, you can apply for your entire 4 years of college to be waived if your equivalency is granted. The equivalency is evaluated by a CEF, or credentials evaluation firm, that an immigration lawyer can refer you to. The CIS has the right to challenge them but such a situation is rarely seen by us. The more common challenge is that you will have a position the CIS does not feel requires a degree in the first place. This type of challenge can be quite a burden so make certain that your position is a high-level one so this problem is not one you will face.
At this time, the only things an H1 applicant can do is extend a current H1, change employers, change employment terms, or work in a second H1 position. This last one is interesting. If a person is already on an H1 visa, he or she can still apply for a second one to hold concurrently. A lot of people are not aware that an H1 can be used for part-time employment or that the person is able to work for two companies simultaneously. There is one last two-part solution.
Some people who call us are businesspeople in their own country. However, thinking the transition to the US is hard, they secure employment with an American company so that they can make the move with some level of security. The trade-off, apart from a loss of independence, is a loss of earning capacity…of course this applies to anyone in any country. However, some of the people calling us are highly talented…but afraid. For those of you who are not afraid of entrepreneurial risk, read on.
Some of our callers have companies in foreign countries. If you have owned your company in your country (or any country for that matter) for a year and it is legitimate and creates revenue, you may be eligible for an L1 visa. In order to qualify, simply invest in a company in the United States and own at least 51% of it. If you are the manager or executive of that firm, you may remain in the United States for up to a year. However, a year later you may apply for the highest level Green Card there is, the EB1, and if you qualify, you may have it a year or so later. That particular type of Green Card does not require that the position (of the Green Card applicant) be advertised. That is a great advantage because if people more qualified than you apply for your position, they will move you off your place on the chess board of immigration. Another plus is that you don’t have to wait for the current 8 or so years for your Green Card. A benefit of the L1 is that your spouse will have work authorization.
A second option is available for people who do not own a current business. If you are from a Treaty Country (primarily Canada, Mexico, Australia, and most of Western Europe), you can apply for the E1 or E2, also called E-2 visa. The E visa group if for foreign investors who want to open a company in the United States. The reason I mention it is because a lot of people calling me seem to confuse the EB5 or EB-5 category with the E visa and think they must invest a million dollars and hire 10 US employees. The EB5 is too complex to discuss now and will be the covered in another article. However, with the E visa, we have successfully won cases with investments of $100,000 and a good business plan.
Many talented people feel that the H1B visa is their only option. It’s not. Sure, investing in your own company is risky, but so is working for someone else. If you are entrepreneurial, the E visa may turn your financial life around. Although the world economy is in a slump, the United States values brilliance and hard work. If you have a plan, maybe you can take it to the next step. For more information on the E and L visas, feel free to visit www.my-immigration-attorney.com/index-2.html. If you are moving to the United States, we created a site to help you understand the country a bit better: www.usa-explained.com. I hope this helps you find another option to the H-1b. Otherwise, you will have to wait until the new filing date of April 1st 2012 in order to start working on October 1st, 2012. Think of what you can do with your life between now and then as an entrepreneur!