Alternatives for Foreign Students

Posted on April 10, 2007 by Warren Wen | Category: Immigration

What Foreign Students Can Do When H-1B Cap Has Been Reached In One Day?

Last year the USCIS declared that the H-1B cap for 2007 reached in one day. The USCIS has adapted the lottery system for those H-1B applications received on the first and the second day.  While the H-1B cap is reached in one day, what can a great number of foreign students do when their H-1B applications are not accepted through the lottery process?

For a great deal of foreign students in the United States, the H-1B is the first and the crucial step if they want to work in the U.S. and get a green card.  The fact that the H-1B cap reached in one day last year devastated many students.  It meant that after year of hard study, even if they overcame the tremendous challenges in finding a good job and getting the employer to sponsor for them for their H-1B working visas, they still could not adjust their status to the H-1B status due to lack of H-1B quota.  This created big problems for both the students and companies last year.  For foreign students, they had a problem in staying and working legally in the U.S.  For companies, they could not keep these qualified employees to remain competitive in the market.  Many foreign students who were not lucky enough to get the lottery for the H-1B quota had been eager to find ways to stay legal in the U.S.

Generally speaking, foreign students could keep their legal status in the United States through the following ways even if they could not get the H-1B visa this year:

First, they could go back to the school to maintain the F-1 status, and then apply for the H-1B status next year when the new quota is available. This is the choice for most of foreign students when they could not adjust their status by any other ways.

Secondly, they could apply to change the F-1 status to the B-1/B-2 status. This is possible in theory, but difficult in practice because it is very rare for people to apply to change the status from F-1 to B-1/B-2.

Thirdly, there is no quota restriction for the H-1B beneficiaries who work for universities or non-profit organizations.  If foreign students could get find a job with universities or non-profit organizations, they could apply for the H-1B status with no restriction.  It would be a good option for those students majoring in computer related area, because the universities and non-profit organizations seem to have continuous demands for the IT people.

Fourthly, for the foreign students who came from countries that have an investment treaty with the United States, like Taiwan and Korea, they could apply for the E-1/E-2 visa. There is no quota restriction for these two categories, so the foreign students of these treaty countries could avoid the quota issue related to their H-1B application.

Finally, it would be worth noting that the above choices are not available for all foreign students. Because of the shortage in the H-1B quota, it is still a great challenge for many foreign students to stay and work legally in the U.S.  To fundamentally solve the problem of H-1B quota shortages, it is up to the Congress and the President to pass the immigration reform.

Regarding this issue, many people and attorneys thought that the serious shortage of H-1B quota indicated the urgent need for the immigration reform.  Acknowledging the urgent need for immigration reform, we are not as optimistic as other attorneys regarding the chance for the immigration reform to be passed soon.

Firstly, the Congress is driven by different needs and rules than that of the society. Immigration reform maybe is on the agenda of this Congress, but it’s not the most urgent one. Currently, the Democrats may have more interest in pressing for Iraq issue than immigration reform.  Secondly, the main beneficiary of the H-1B quota is foreign students and employers, they are not the traditional constituents of Democrats, so that the Democrats may not solve the problem as urgent as people thought.

This article is only for your reference. Please do not apply mechanically to any exact cases. You are welcome to consult our attorneys at Liu & Associates, P.C. For contact information, please click here.