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H-1B visa prospects seem low? Here are other options available to work in the US

Experts talk about two visa options foreigners looking to work in the US can try out to get around Donald Trump’s executive order on granting visa.

india Updated: Apr 23, 2017 07:59 IST
New Delhi
H-1B visa,Trump signs executive order on visa,L1 visa
President Donald Trump speaks to workers at the headquarters of tool manufacturer Snap-On on April 18, 2017 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. During the visit, Trump signed an executive order to try to bring jobs back to American workers and revamp the H-1B visa guest worker program. (AFP Photo)

For Indians banking on the H-1B visa to work in America, president Donald Trump’s latest executive order isn’t good news, but experts say other options are available for skilled workers – such as the L1 and EB5 visas.

Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order that directs federal agencies to ensure preference for the “most skilled and highest paid ” foreigners while granting visa. This, coupled with fact that the cap for H-1B visas for 2018 may have been reached, Indians – who form the majority of the recipients of such visas – will likely face a tougher task while applying to work in the US.

What is the L1 visa?

L1 visas allow the temporary transfer of a foreign worker in the managerial, executive or specialised knowledge category to the US to continue employment with an office of the same employer.

According to Abhinav Lohia, partner at Davies &Associates which specialises in US immigration law, Indian companies will now scout for American talent or opt for alternatives like L1B or L1A visas to send workers to the US.

The L1 visa can help as “a lot of US companies prefer to deal with a local company or someone on the ground in the United States representing a foreign company instead of dealing directly with the foreign company”, Lohia explained.

While the H-1B and L1 visas are for employees, one can opt for the EB5 visa if they have enough money, Lohia said.

The Eb5 visa

For an EB5 visa, the applicant needs to invest $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) or $1,000,000 in a non-TEA and the investment should result in 10 jobs.

In recent times, there has been a sharp hike in the number of Indian applicants for EB5 visas and Lohia attributed multiple reasons for this, including the fact that the US is a better country to retire in and there are more opportunities to expand business operations.

According to Mark Davies, global chairman of Davies&Associates, parents gifting funds necessary for an EB5 application may be the only option now for Indian students seeking employment after graduation in the US.

Lohia said that EB5 and L1A visas may lead to permanent residence and eventually to US citizenship faster.

“It puts an end to the dependence on the employer for staying in the United States,” he said.

“Upon being fired from his/her job, an H1-B visa holder may have to leave the country along with his/her family, whereas once someone gets permanent residence they are no longer dependent on others for their stay in the US as long as they are law-abiding and renew their Green Card on time.”

First Published: Apr 19, 2017 18:39 IST