What are the Challenges Faced by H1B Visa Workers?
Aside from the dependency on employer sponsorship, the main challenges faced by H-1B workers are the random lottery process of H1B application, the limited number of visas available to new applicants, and the recent layoffs from major tech companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Twitter, and Google.
Losing Your H1B Job Because of a Layoff
The most pressing challenge that H 1B workers have been facing, particularly those in the tech industry, is the job layoff that began in 2022 owing to the aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees laid off on H1B are only given 60 days from the end of their employment to find a new sponsoring U.S. employer to remain in the United States. Considering that the H1B Visa layoff has affected thousands of tech workers, the likelihood of finding a new job in the same industry is meager. Losing your H1B job requires you to leave the United States if you are unable to find an employer in time to maintain your status.
Foreign workers are not the only ones affected by H1B unemployment. Many H 1B Visa holders bring their spouses and children with them to the United States with the view of staying permanently. H-1B workers and their families create relationships, buy homes and cars, sign up for loans, and enroll their children in US schools. The 60-day grace period is not enough time to start uprooting all of these for H1B laid off workers. In some instances, H1B workers who are outside the USA are now unable to re-enter the country due to the loss of their employment and valid immigration status.
Going Through the H1B Visa Quota and Lottery
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced in March 2023 that the number of H-1B Visas allotted for the fiscal year 2024, which began in October, had been reached. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) then conducts a random lottery from among the duly filed H 1B applications. Graduates and professionals from all over the world have been subject to the computerized lottery for nearly 20 years which aims to assure impartiality and fairness. The random lottery has since made the H-1B Visa application process quite uncertain since the applicants’ qualifications are not taken into account in the selection process.
USCIS then decides the eligibility requirements after the lottery selection. Over 350,000 applications were submitted for the fiscal year 2024 however, only 85,000 visas are available each year for new H1B workers. Over 75% of those who applied will not be able to work on an H1B Visa in the United States.
Upon getting your H1B Work Visa, you are dependent on your employer while living and working in the US until you are granted an Employment-based Green Card. Indian H1B workers face longer wait times for Employment based Green Cards with reported processing times exceeding 30 years.
What are the Advantages of Getting an EB5 Visa for Laid-off H1B Workers in the US?
Getting an EB5 Immigrant Investor Visa does not subject you to the uncertainties caused by layoffs and lottery selection. You do not need to be sponsored by an employer to get your Green Card and you also qualify for US Citizenship faster than most immigration routes.
The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act (RIA) passed in 2022 enacted significant changes to the program which aims not only to improve transparency but also processing efficiency for immigrant investors. The following changes from the Reform and Integrity Act (RIA) are particularly beneficial to H1B laid off workers and their families looking for a more secure permanent residency pathway.
The EB 5 RIA allows you to file your Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor) and Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) concurrently. As long as your H1B status remains valid and an immigrant visa is readily available to you, you are eligible for concurrent filing of your initial EB5 petition and Adjustment of Status (AOS) application. Your status continues to be valid while your I-485 is being adjudicated and you are qualified to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to continue working in the United States. You can also apply for an Advance Parole (AP) Travel Document to travel outside the US and re-enter without any complications. Concurrent adjustment of status filings speed up the EB-5 Green Card application for H1B workers and their dependents.
Reserved Visas and Priority Processing
Investors in Targeted Employment Area (TEA) projects qualify for reserved visas and priority processing of their I-526 petitions. A Targeted Employment Area (TEA) project is located in a rural area or a high-unemployment region. TEA investors are allocated 32% of the annual EB5 Visas available and are also eligible for a lower minimum investment of $800,000.
How to Get an EB5 Visa from H1B Visa?
Changing your status from H1B to EB5 is the quickest way to get a USA Green Card. Since the process involves a financial investment, you need to engage the services of EB5 industry experts to choose the right investment project.
Here are the 5 steps to transitioning from H1B to EB5 Visa.
- Choose the right EB-5 Project. Choosing the right EB5 Visa Project requires careful due diligence with the help of an EB5 Attorney, an investment advisor, an economist, and a securities specialist. You would have to decide whether you will put up a direct investment project or go through a regional center.
- Invest the required minimum capital. TEA investments should be at least $800,000 while non-TEA investments require at least $1.05 million. Your EB-5 investment must lead to the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs for US workers.
- Get your EB 5 Green Card. Your EB5 Green Card is valid for 2 years which grants you, your spouse, and minor unmarried children the right to live, work, and study in the USA without restrictions.
- Apply for removal of conditions. After you have met the investment and employment creation requirements of the EB 5 Program within your conditional residency, you can then submit Form I-829 (Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status).
- Obtain Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR). Removing the conditions on your Green Card grants you and your dependents 10 years of Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR) which is renewable unlimitedly.
Applying for an EB-5 Visa from H-1B Visa allows you to maintain a valid status and a continued stay in the USA even after being laid off. You are also eligible to file for US Citizenship after 5 years as an EB 5 Green Card holder.
We’re Here to Help You Get Your EB5 Green Card
We specialize in conducting thorough due diligence on EB-5 Projects and in advising clients on potential investment immigration opportunities. We work with immigration attorneys, investment specialists, and regional centers to help you secure an EB-5 Green Card. Set up a consultation with Vivek Tandon today to get your US EB-5 Visa journey started.