Consider O-1A Visa as a Work Visa Alternative for the H-1B

Consider O-1A Visa as a Work Visa Alternative for the H-1B
July 20, 2023

The H-1B lottery has ended. As such, employers with prospective foreign national workers selected for the Fiscal Year 2024 cap must begin filing petitions. Meanwhile, most employers must search for other options to meet their hiring needs. The petitions filed using the electronic lottery system exceeded the available congressionally mandated cap by 673,994.

The H-1B visa is one of the most popular options for employers seeking skilled workers. It has much to offer, with a high degree of flexibility, options for renewal, and the ability to qualify for a green card. However, it is not the only option available. Given the low chances of selection, an alternative such as the O-1A visa is worth considering.

The O-1A visa is a non-immigrant employment-based visa status without a cap restricting the number of visas issued yearly. Instead, the selection criteria consider an individual’s “extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics.” Employers may submit evidence showcasing the candidate’s exceptional abilities and achievements. Meeting these requirements allows individuals to work in their respective fields in the United States.

Such evidence could include the following:

  • Proof of original contributions to the individual’s field;
  • Authorship of scholarly articles or other media;
  • Material published by others about the individual;
  • Membership in organizations that require significant achievement to qualify; 
  • The receipt of nationally or internationally recognized awards or prizes for excellence;
  • Evidence that the individual has or will earn high compensation for their work;
  • Evidence that the individual has served as a judge for the work of others in the field.

This visa holds higher standards than the H-1B visa, limiting the number of individuals who may qualify. However, those who meet these high standards may find the O-1A visa a better opportunity than the H-1B visa.

Individuals who acquire this visa could maintain employment in the U.S. for up to three years. They may also apply for extensions to continue their employment. In addition, they can enjoy an unlimited number of one-year extensions.

However, O-1A visa holders must complete the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process each time they extend their stay in the United States. They may complete Form I-9 using a passport as a List B document and a Form I-94 showing the validity end date as a List C document.

Keeping track of these requirements has proven challenging. However, an electronic I-9 management system can help to ensure uniform compliance regardless of immigration or citizenship status. It can also provide helpful features, including electronic storage for forms and documentation.

Streamline your hiring process with an automated employment eligibility verification and ensure compliance today with I-9Compliance.