As you know USCIS received about 124,000 petitions for H1B visa 2014 quota and there was lottery. Some of you, who may be unlucky to be selected in lottery might be wondering what are my options to stay or work in America. There are a few scenarios like below, which are very common. Let me take some time to explain the options
- I am on F1 Visa and working on OPT. My OPT expires by end of 2013, What are my options ?
- I am studying on F1 Visa. Will graduate Spring 2013 or Summer 2013 ? What can I do ?
- I applied for Change of Status (COS) from H4 to H1B Visa ? What should I do to work ?
- My company applied for H1B Visa from overseas, What can I do to work in America ?
F1 Visa and Working on OPT, which expires by end of 2013 or earlier – Options ?
Well, if you fall under STEM Degree Category and you have not used up your 17 month extension of OPT, you should go for the OPT extension. Your employer should be USCIS E-Verified to avail this option. This will help you work on OPT and be in status in America. You can apply for H1B Visa 2015 quota, which typically opens up in April 2014.
If you do NOT fall under STEM degree category, unfortunately, you are left with few options to stay in America.
- You can apply for another degree either MS or MBA, but you will NOT get second OPT for 1 year. Not sure, if it will add value to your career or pursue your passion, it just makes you stay in America and apply for H1B FY 2015 quota. Alternatively, you can also apply for PhD, which is quite a commitment, where you will get another one year OPT. You have to remember, PhD can take about 3 to 5 years depending on your university. Pursuing PhD for the sake for status is not the best idea, you need to passionate about research.
- You can find a public university or research institute that can sponsor your H1B visa. Higher education institutions are not governed by congressional H1B annual cap numbers.
- You will have to leave the country after your OPT ends. Staying beyond your valid status in America can complicate your immigration history and you can end up in issues in future, if you would like to leave later and re-enter America.
Studying on F1 Visa. Graduating Spring or Summer 2013 – Options for H1B Visa ?
If you do some adjustments to your OPT start and end dates, you can stay in America and be eligible for H1B Visa FY 2015 to work in US. USCIS provides an option called cap gap, that lets you work in America after your OPT expires and you have filed your H1B visa application for the upcoming fiscal year. Essentially what it means is that if you file for your H1B visa for FY 2015 on April 1st and your OPT was valid at the time you apply for H1B Visa, you are good to work until the decision of your H1B petition. If your H1B is approved, you are fine to work until October 1st and your H1B status kicks in after October 1st. You will have to stop working after October 1st, if you are still awaiting decision. Small catch is that your stay will be considered out of status, if your petition is rejected from April 1st until your petitions was adjudicated. So, the summary is that make sure you can push your OPT start date as late as you can by talking to DSO at your school, so that you can apply for H1B Visa 2015 quota. If you are graduating in Summer 2013, you should be fine to have start OPT in August and you will be fine with cap gap as well.
H4 to H1B visa COS for FY 2014 – Not selected in Lottery. Options to work ?
Unfortunately, there is a very limited option. You would need to find a public university or education/ research institute that can file your H1B visa under cap exempt quota. It can be very hard, but that’s the truth. You may also enroll in MS degree program, do a COS to F1 visa and avail the option of CPT and OPT, it depends on your passion to study MS. If you just want to keep yourself engaged and not interested in monetary returns, you can always do volunteering. One of my friends wife started with Volunteering for research at a University and eventually they filed for her H1B Visa petition.
Company Applied for H1B visa from Overseas – Not selected in Lottery , Options to work in USA ?
If your company is a global and have offices overseas and in America and they process L1 Visa, you may be eligible for L1A or L1B visa after completion of 1 year of work in your company. Again, it depends on the company you work for and their practices to do L1 visas, you would have to talk to them. This is probably the best option for you to work in America. If your company is NOT global and have only US presence, then your option is to apply for next fiscal year 2015.
Marry American Citizen to Stay in America ?
Some may advice to Marry an American to stay in USA, because it is an option. But, it is NOT the right choice. You need to marry someone, if you fall in love with someone, not just because you want to stay in America. That’s wrong way to look at Life. You can always come back to America, if you have the skills and education, marrying someone for staying in America, is wrong thing to do.
Did I miss anything ? What are the best options ? Share your thoughts, ideas ?