Are Some Using O-1 Visas When H-1B Visas Become Unavailable?

Is the O-1 visa a good alternative for businesspeople and talented workers who have trouble securing an H-1B visa? Many people believe so, according to a recent MSNBC report, especially until immigration reform fixes many of the issues that skilled workers face when attempting to work in the United States. 

H-1B visas are capped; O-1 visas are not.

When lawmakers talk about immigration reform, almost all agree that the U.S. should allow more skilled workers into the country through the H-1B program. Currently, there is an 85,000 annual cap on the visa, and each year we are hitting the cap earlier and earlier (this year, the quota was reached in under two weeks). 

With a shortage of skilled programmers, engineers, and scientists in the United States, companies are desperate for talented employees. Some are finding luck with the O-1 visa for extraordinary ability – a non-immigrant visa designed to attract top-shelf professors, scientists, and businessmen to the country. There is no cap on this type of visa, though the process of getting approved can be difficult. 

Proving you are distinguished in your field

The most obvious difference between the two visas is that those applying for an O-1 visa must provide thorough documentation that they are distinguished in their fields. For a programmer or engineer, this may include proof of accomplishments and awards, coverage in the national press, publications, and proof of membership in important organizations. 

Vaughan de Kirby
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San Francisco California EB-5 Investment Immigration Attorney
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