Work Visas

Posted on March 20, 2007 by Warren Wen | Category: Immigration

Other Available Working Visas Besides H-1B

With April 1st approaching us quickly, H-1B visa becomes the hot topic in town, especially for those foreign students who have already graduated in the spring or those who plan to graduate in the coming summer.  For the majority of them, H-1B becomes the most important avenue for them to legally stay and work in the United States.  To make the situation more intense, for the past few years, the shortage of H-1B visas has become more serious and the H-1B visas have been used out long before each calendar year began on October 1st of each year.  In order for the foreign students to get their H-1B visa to legally work in the United States, they not only have to take the big challenge of finding a good job, but also have to make extra efforts to make sure their attorneys filed their H-1B visa petitions with the USCIS immediately after April 1st.  Last year, H-1B visas were used out by the end of the first day the new quota opened.  Who knows when the H-1B quota will run out this year?  With less than a couple of months left for us before April 1st, it is possible that the quota may run out again as early as the first day this year.  The month of April will become a nerve breaking month again for a lot of people.

It is true that for the majority of the students, H-1B visa could be the only game in town.  Nevertheless, it is worth noting that H-1B visa is not the only working visa available under the US immigration laws.  Besides H-1B, there are several other visa categories that are available to many qualified aliens.  They are as follows:

  1. H2-A for agriculture workers;
  2. H2-B for non-agriculture workers;
  3. O visa for persons of proven extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics;
  4. P visa for athletes, athletic teams or qualified entertainment companies;
  5. L visa for foreign executives/managers or skilled workers;
  6. R visa for working of religious organizations;
  7. E-1 visa for citizens of countries which have trade treaties with the U.S.;
  8. E-2 visa for citizens of countries which have investor treaty with the U.S.

Among the working visas mentioned above, H-2A and H-2B visas generally are for the skilled workers, but without college or advanced degrees.  O and P visas are for the people with extraordinary ability or the people working in sports or entertainment industry.  As a result, they are not available for the majority of the students.  As for L visa, since it requires one year working experience with a foreign company in the past three years, most of the students in the U.S. may not qualify.

With regard to the R visa, it is a viable choice.  The United States is a country where the freedom to practice religion is well protected and there are a lot of religious organizations in this country.  Especially in the recent year, with the widespread use of the IT technology, a lot of religious organizations had urgent needs for the people with good IT background.  With the clouds drawn on H-1B, many qualified students may be interested in whether the R visa would be a viable option for them.

Regarding E-1 and E-2 visa, especially the E-2 visa, it is an option worth paying more attention to.  A lot of Asian counties, including Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, have the treaty agreement with the United States.  As a result, students from those countries could easily qualify for the E-2 visa if they could find an employment with companies that are mostly owned by the citizens of those treaty countries.  On the contrary to our general understanding, the E-2 visa is not only available to the investors who wish to invest in a company in the U.S, but it is also available to the essential employees of these companies.

Although China does not have the investor treaties with the U.S., in the recent year, more Chinese have came from a country that has the investor treaty with the U.S., such as South Africa, Australia, and Canada.  For those Chinese students who could gain the nationality of those treaty countries, the E-2 visa could be a viable option for them.

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.