H-1B Cap Alternatives for Healthcare and Biotech Companies

Immigration Attorneys

Trying for an H-1B visa can be very frustrating. As one of the most popular work visas in the U.S. for professionals, many pursue the H-1B visa, but many are disappointed. You see, the majority of H-1B vias are subject to an annual quota. This annual quota, known as a “cap,” means that many pursuing an H-1B visa will likely be disappointed. Because there is a limit on the number of H-1B visas, USCIS puts applicants in a lottery in order to select who will have their H-1B visa application processed.

The lottery is already filled for this year. For employers pursuing H-1B visas for foreign employees, they have been left wondering whether they are out of luck until October of 2023. Fortunately, many employers, particularly those in specialized industries requiring many workers with advanced degrees, such as those in the healthcare and biotech industries, there are alternatives that could potentially allow them to circumvent the H-1B cap problem.

H-1B Cap Alternatives for Healthcare and Biotech Companies

For those healthcare and biotech companies looking to hire and retain foreign employees to work in the United States, do not be disheartened by the limited supply of H-1B visas. You likely have other visa options that are not is often pursued for other H-1B visas and may not even be subject to the annual fiscal year cap. Some visa alternatives may include but not be limited to:

TN visas: These visas are only available to Canadian and Mexican citizens pursuant to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and only to those in certain occupations. Qualifying occupations include those in the healthcare and biotech industries where many occupations require a bachelor’s degree, at a minimum. The added good news is that this type of visa is not subject to the annual fiscal year cap.

F-1 visas: This is a student visa which usually permits the student to work for 1-year after graduating from college in order to gain experience and training in their field of study. Usually, employers will apply for an H-1B visa on behalf of F-1 visa, but the cap limits have thrown a wrench in this. Students with a STEM degree, however, may have other options. Those students with degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM), may be eligible for a STEM extension of their F-1 visa for up to 2 additional years. This extension can allow employers to pursue an H-1B visa for three consecutive lotteries. The extension is not subject to a cap.

O-1 visas: This may be another option for employees in the healthcare and biotech industries, but there are added requirements for this visa. In particular, this visa is geared towards individuals who have achieved some level of acclaim or distinction in their academic field. This would include individuals who have made significant and original contributions to their field, published peer-reviewed articles, and made other noteworthy contributions. Generally speaking, accomplished scientists are eligible for O-1 visas, which are not subject to an annual quota. A full analysis of an individual’s academic and experiential credentials would be necessary to analyze an individual’s ability to obtain an O-1 visa.

J-1 visa: The J-1 visa has a number of sub-categories and will allow temporary employees to work for a specified period of time in order to gain practical experience or training when early on in their careers. The maximum allowable period for this visa will vary depending on the subcategory, but run a range from one to 7 years.

Immigration Law Attorneys

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