H-1B Non-Selection Contingency Plan


The H-1B non-immigrant visa allows foreign workers to live and work in certain occupations in the United States for a U.S. employer. The limit of allotted visas, set by the USCIS, is currently 85,000 visas per year. 20,000 of these visas are reserved for those who hold advanced degrees from a U.S. college or university. Of the nearly 500,000 submissions in 2023 fiscal year, USCIS selected less than 20% of applicants’ H-1B registration. Unfortunately, this year’s H-1B lottery was no different. As the need for nonimmigrant workers grows, so does the number of H-1Bs filed and placed in the lottery.

With only 85,000 visas available for the year, the lottery left many employers (petitioners) and employees (beneficiaries) empty-handed. In the likely event your registration is not chosen in the lottery, it’s important to consider other options. Below are a few H-1B non-selection contingency plans, but keep in mind that not all options are right for everyone. You should consult your lawyer before pursuing another option.


F-1 Visa Optional Practical Training (OPT)

International graduates from a U.S. post-secondary institution may be eligible for a 12-month period of OPT employment authorization in a field related to their degree. F-1 students who have a degree in a STEM field and who are employed by a company participating in the U.S. government’s E-Verify program may extend the initial period of OPT for an additional 24 months.


Nonimmigrant Work Visas based on Nationality

H-1B1 visas are available to citizens of Chile and Singapore.

E-3 visas are granted only to citizens of Australia who will work in specialty occupations.

TN visas are reserved for citizens of Mexico and Canada who are coming to the United States to work in certain “Professional Occupations” that are specifically listed in the United States, Mexico, and Canada Agreement (USMCA).


O-1 Visas for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

The O-1A category is for individuals with extraordinary ability in science, business, education, or athletics based on demonstrated, sustained national or international acclaim who have an offer of employment from an U.S. employer in a capacity requiring extraordinary ability.

The O-1B category is available to individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts, or achievements in the motion picture/television industry.


Visas for Trainees

H-3 Trainee visa might be appropriate if the goal is to obtain job-related training for work that will be performed outside the United States. This job-related training must be unavailable in your home country and must not involve substantial productive employment in the U.S.

The J-1 Exchange Visitor visa may be used to provide training for individuals with a foreign degree or professional certificate and at least on year of work experience. Individuals who are recent graduates of a foreign college or university may alternatively qualify as J-1 interns.


If you were not chosen in the H-1B lottery, please contact us so we can discuss your options.

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