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H-1B Lottery Reversal Sparks Increased Applications for EB-5 Program

February 25, 2019 / Nadia

Many existing H-1B applicants have decided to instead apply for the EB-5 program now that the lottery has reversed, putting all applicants with master’s degrees at the front of the line, significantly affecting all H-1B applicants.

So, what is changing?

It was announced this month that there will be a change in the H-1B lottery order, giving first priority to U.S. master’s degree holders – regardless of how long other applicants have been in line. Due to the nature of the H-1B visa process, the program updates now provide steep disadvantages for foreign professionals with a bachelor’s degree.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies and employers to hire foreign specialty professionals to work in skilled occupations, usually technology. The H-1B requires that the applicant hold at least a bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent education, or 12 years of work experience. Earlier this year, it was reported that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received more applications than the entire H-1B program cap that the Fiscal Year 2019 allows.

Due to these lottery changes, petitioners with a master’s degree essentially have a doubled chance of being selected for the H-1B lottery. Currently, based on the most updated reform – the H-1B visa cap limit is set at 65,000 petitions and the master cap limit is 20,000 petitions. This change will allow applicants with a master’s degree to be selected in both the regular lottery as well as the master’s lottery

Is there an alternative to H-1B?

Many petitioners with just an undergraduate degree are abandoning the H-1B visa route for US Citizenship and are looking for more concrete options, such as EB-5 that ensure their citizenship.

Since EB-5 is available to foreigners who invest in an eligible EB-5 project and does not rely on a lottery system or sponsorship, foreign applicants are considering EB-5 as a preferred route to permanent US citizenship. EB-5 is available to everyone to take advantage of, and provides a direct path to citizenship, while permanent citizenship is not guaranteed and can be hard to attain on H-1B.


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