Now that Donald Trump is set to be the next president of the United States, there are a lot of concerns over some of the things that he said during his campaign. “The Donald” has called for intense measures to eliminate illegal immigration, including a massive wall to be built between the United States and Mexico. However, President-elect Trump has also openly condemned some legal forms of immigration, including the H-1B visa program.
The H-1B program allows foreign workers with specialized skills and knowledge to come to the US to work. While it is not specifically listed in his 10-point immigration plan, Trump has spoken publically about his disdain for the program.
“The H-1B program is neither high-skilled nor immigration,” Trump said in a statement to the press. “These are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay. I remain totally committed to eliminating rampant, widespread H-1B abuse and ending outrageous practices… I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”
Should Trump call for H-1B reform or abolishment, foreign workers need an action plan that will allow them to continue to come to the US to work. In the content below, we will go over some of the best H-1B alternatives.
1. The F-1 Student Visa
If you are currently an F-1 visa student, you can extend your stay by participating in Optional Practical Training (OPT). This will allow you to work in the US for 12 months following your graduation date. However, if you hold a STEM degree (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics), you can work in the US on OPT for up to 29 months. However, your employer will need to be enrolled in USCIS’s E-Verify program.
You can also stay and work in the US by enrolling in another degree program in order to prolong your F-1 status. After that, you could apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). With CPT, you will be able to work in an internship or work-study program for up to 20 hours a week. You may work more than 20 hours per week if you hold a job offer and get your I-20 Form endorsed by the Designated Student Officer (DSO).
2. The H-3 Visa
The H-3 visa is a nonimmigrant work visa that your employer will need to petition for on your behalf. With this visa, you can temporarily reside in the United States as either a trainee or a special education exchange visitor.
Trainee – As a trainee, the H-3 visa allows you to work and train in any field (except for graduate medical education) so long as it is not available in your country and the training is not “primarily to provide productive employment.”
Special Education Exchange Visitor – According to USCIS, as an H-3 special education exchange visitor, you will be allowed to come to the US to join in “special education exchange visitor training program that provides for practical training and experience in the education of children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.”
Both categories of the H-3 visa only allow you to remain in the US for the duration of your training or education program. Because of this, it may not be the best option for anyone wishing to stay in the US for a long period of time.
3. The J-1 Exchange Visitors Visa
The J-1 visa is a great option for anyone coming to the United States to teach, study, train, research, or get graduate medical education. To have a J-1 visa, you must have a DOS-approved sponsoring exchanging program. These programs are intended to provide the exchange of knowledge and skills. Some common examples of J-1 exchange visitors are nannies, teachers, students, scholars and researchers.
4. The L-1 Visa
The L-1 visa allows you to come to work in the US if your intended position is of a managerial or executive level, or if you possess specialized skills and knowledge. In order to qualify for this visa, you must also:
- Have worked outside of the US for at least one of the last three years
- Your foreign company has a qualifying relationship with the US company
- Both the foreign company and the US company will continue to operate once you arrive in the US
As an L-1 visa holder, you will be allowed to stay in the US for three years with possible extensions—the maximum time allowed is seven years. If you come to the US to establish a new office, you will only be allowed to stay in the US for one year.
One distinct advantage of the L-1 visa is that it allows you to bring your family with you, including your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21.
The B-1 Visa
If you are coming to the US to participate in commercial or professional business activities, you may be qualified for the B-1 visa. Some examples of qualified activities include negotiating contracts, deadheading, consulting, and short-term training.
To be eligible for the B-1 visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- You are coming to the US for a legitimate business purpose
- You have significant ties to your foreign country, including a permanent residence that you do not intend to desert
- You have sufficient funds to pay for your stay in the US as well as your departure
- You plan to stay in the US for a limited time
As a B-1 visa holder, you will be allowed to stay in the US for a maximum of six months. However, you may be eligible to extend your stay by another six months. If you choose to bring your family with you to the United States, they will not be allowed to accompany you as your dependents. Instead, they will have to apply for their own B-2 visas.
5. The Diversity Visa Lottery
If all else fails, you may want to try your luck in the Diversity Visa Lottery—also known as the green card lottery. The Diversity Visa Lottery distributes 55,000 immigration visas each year. In order to be eligible for the lottery, you will need to have a high school degree and be emigrating from a country that has not sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States within the last five years. However, the green card lottery deadline for this year passed on November 7th.
All of these options allow you to come to the US either to work, study, or train. However, many of these alternatives do not allow you to reside in the US as long as the H-1B visa does. If you are looking for long term or permanent residency, you may want to look into your options for obtaining a green card. If you have any questions regarding routes to immigration, contact the experts at Katz Law Office, Ltd. today to schedule your free 30-minute consultation.
None of the advice contained in these materials serves as a substitute for individualized legal representation by a licensed attorney with experience in the practice area.