H1-B Alternatives: What Are the Available Visa Options

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The H-1B visa program enables businesses located in the United States to hire foreign employees for professions that need highly specialized expertise and training with the help of immigration attorneys.

These employees must have a bachelor’s degree or higher in the particular work or an equivalent qualification.

The lottery for the H-1B cap does not pick foreign nationals who are not eligible to obtain an H-1B visa for the fiscal year in which they are not chosen.

They may, on the other hand, qualify for one of the non-immigrant visa types listed below.

1. H-4 OR L-2 

If a foreign national’s spouse is a current H-1B or L-1 visa beneficiary, a foreign national who does not have legal immigrant status may apply for H-4 or L-2 status.

Individuals with L-2 status are eligible to apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) without the sponsorship of an employer, which allows them to work for any company in the United States. 

H-4 and L-2 visas are linked to the spouse’s primary H-1B or L-1 visas, which means that they are only valid if the principal visa is still in effect at the time of application.

H-1B visas are suitable for a maximum of three years, with the option of extending the stay for an additional three years up to a total of six years. 

Initial L-1 visa petitions are valid for three years, with subsequent extensions useful for two years.

L-1 visas are not renewable. L-1B visas are only valid for a total of five years, while L-1A visas are only good for a total of seven years, depending on the country.

2. L-1B

To move employees with the specialized expertise related to the organization’s business from an associated overseas office to its US office, a US employer must first get permission from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

To qualify, the employee must have worked for the overseas office for at least one year while using their specialized expertise within the previous three years. 

The initial period of employment for these workers is three years.

This visa may also be used by a foreign business to deploy an employee to work in a new office in the United States with the permission of immigration attorneys.

If they are working in a new US office, L-1B workers will be permitted to remain for a maximum of one year during their first period of employment.

3. L-1A

This visa enables a US company to move an employee from an associated overseas office to a management or executive position to its US office.

During the previous three years, the employee must have worked as a manager or executive for the foreign office for at least one year in a managerial or executive capacity. 

The initial period of employment for these workers is three years. This visa may also be used by a foreign business to transfer management or executive personnel to the United States to establish a new office there.

Beneficiaries launching a new US office will be permitted to remain for a maximum of one year at a time.

4. O-1

People with exceptional talent in the sciences, arts, education, research, business, or sports are eligible for an O-1 visa, which may be extended for five years.

Additionally, it may be awarded to those who have achieved exceptional success in the motion picture or television industries.

All O-1 candidates must show that they have received national or worldwide recognition for their accomplishments to be considered.

The first stay term for non-immigrants in the United States may be up to three years, with a 10-day grace period before the validity period starts and a ten-day grace period after the validity period expires.

During the duration of the petition’s validity, these beneficiaries are only permitted to work part-time.


There are presently 85,000 H-1B visas available each fiscal year.

Each year, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducts a randomized H-1B cap lottery with the help of an immigration attorney to determine who will get visa approval.

Employers may submit H-1B petitions on behalf of people who have been chosen via the lottery system.