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7 Alternative Paths to Stay in the U.S. Beyond the H1B Lottery


Receiving news that you haven't been selected for the H1B lottery as your OPT nears expiration can indeed be disheartening. However, not being selected for H1B does not spell the end of your journey in the U.S. Here are seven alternative plans to consider for staying in the U.S.:

Day 1 CPT: If you're not selected for H1B and your OPT is expiring, consider enrolling in a graduate or doctoral program that allows for Day 1 CPT authorization. This enables you to continue working while waiting for the next lottery. If you're pursuing a higher degree and use Full-time CPT for less than 12 months during your program, you might also become eligible for a new OPT opportunity.

Employment-Based Green Card: You don't have to wait until you get an H1B visa to apply for an employment-based green card. You can apply for it during your OPT or even while you're still studying.

Investment-Based Green Card: On March 15, 2022, the U.S. Congress passed the "EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act," introducing three categories of "reserved projects" that do not require waiting and can lead to a fast acquisition of an EAD work card and AP re-entry permit within 3-6 months.

Cap-Exempt H1B: Higher educational institutions, their affiliated nonprofit organizations, government research institutions, and nonprofit research organizations can apply for H1B visas for national employees without going through the lottery. Employees of nonprofit employers can also apply for Concurrent H1B to work for other for-profit employers.

Relocated Overseas for a Year, Then Return on L1: If your current employer has branches or subsidiaries overseas, you can relocate to work in another country for a year and then return to the U.S. on an L1 visa.

O Visa for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability: If you excel in your field, you can apply for an O1A or O1B visa for individuals with extraordinary ability. This visa category does not require a lottery and has no cap limit. Unlike the H1B, there's no six-year limit on the O visa, and it can be extended indefinitely.

Switch to a Dependent Visa Status: If your spouse has a suitable visa, you can consider changing to a dependent visa status. If your spouse is a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), they can apply for a green card for you through family immigration. Currently, there's no waiting period for applicants born in mainland China applying for a green card under the spouse category.

I hope everyone can find the path that best suits them to stay in the U.S. and succeed in their endeavors.

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