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With the H-1B lottery season fast approaching, this is a good opportunity to look at other visa alternatives should you be unlucky in the lottery.
As a reminder, the H-1B lottery will be held in March of 2022. This will be the third year with the new USCIS selection process. USCIS distributes the approximately 85,000 visas based on an electronic lottery system. In recent years, there have been over 200,000 applicants for the limited visas.
To get employees on F-1, F-1 OPT or other temporary visas into the lottery, a company must be registered and register each employee they wish to place in the lottery by early to mid-March (USCIS has not yet provided the lottery dates). You will then be notified in April 2022 who has been selected for the H-1B lottery. Even if you have been unsuccessful in the H-1B lottery in the past, you can still register, cross your fingers and hope for better luck this year.
But in the unfortunate event you are not selected, all hope is not lost. An often-underutilized visa may be able to help you retain valuable employees: the O-1 visa.
The O-1 visa is for individuals of extraordinary ability in business, science, and the arts. While not for everyone, the O-1 visa is a great visa for highly qualified individuals that are among the top in their field. Think of an individual with a master’s or Ph.D., that has published or patented their work, maybe received some scholarships and/or fellowships, and has experts that can testify to the benefits of their work, and you will have an ideal candidate for utilizing the O-1 visa.
For start-up companies or smaller organizations just getting started, the O-1 may be a better visa option than the H-1B. For the entrepreneurially minded, obtaining funding or grants for a new company is often the most challenging aspect in the initial stages and cash flow is paramount. The H-1B visa is a job specific, site specific, and wage specific visa with little flexibility for employers. Conversely, the O-1 visa provides much more flexibility in compensation to new employees.
There are a few other advantages to the O-1 compared to the H-1B. Like the H-1B visa, the O-1 allows for the employee to work for up to three years and can be renewed indefinitely whereas the H-1B visa has a maximum limit of 6 years. In addition, an approval of the O-1 visa does open more opportunities for transitioning to permanent residence/green card for the employee.
If unsuccessful in the H-1B lottery this year, or if you think you may qualify or have an employee that may qualify for an O-1 visa, contact Murphy and Associates for a consultation.

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