Yet 83 percent also said they would have hired a U.S. citizen if available, according to survey

Chicago, April 7, 2015 — Nothing highlights the skills gap more than the race to submit H-1B visa applications. In a survey of nearly 100 U.S. companies that seek skilled workers and collectively employ more than 116,000, 50 percent of the companies consider hiring foreign nationals for U.S. job openings “Important or Very Important” with another 23 percent of them calling it “Critical” for their company’s success in 2015.

The increased need for foreign national talent is not surprising given that more than 83 percent of the companies surveyed indicated that they would have hired a U.S. citizen for the job were they able to find a qualified prospect. The survey was conducted by Chicago-based VISANOW, a leading provider of legal immigration services.

These results come at a time of high anxiety for individuals seeking to work in the U.S. and the companies wanting to hire them. Roughly half (if not more) of the people (and their sponsoring employers) who are expected to apply for H-1B visas this year will be forced to seek other options, as the number of applicants will far exceed the 85,000 visa cap, and their fate will be determined by a lottery system. For individuals, not making the cut could mean being forced to leave the country. For employers, it could mean losing out on a key hire and putting a project, team or initiative at risk.

It’s no wonder then that the survey also found that 53 percent of HR managers and other executives found the H1B visa process – and the resulting wait and uncertainty – “Very” or “Extremely” stressful.

“Our survey shows that the importance of being able to hire and retain key foreign employees is surpassed only by the stress and uncertainty of the process,” said Dick Burke, President and CEO of VISANOW. “That said, there are still potential options for those whose applications were not selected. We’re advising our clients to evaluate alternative immigration solutions which may be appropriate for certain employee cases.”

To help companies assess these additional options, VISANOW is offering a free comprehensive white paper “The Comprehensive Guide to H-1B Alternatives,” available for download on its website, that details the fine points of the alternatives to an H-1B visa that may be available, depending on an individual’s circumstances:

  • The TN VisaIs the applicant a Canadian or Mexican national? If so, they may be eligible for the TN visa, which shares a number of similarities to the H-1B, and is one of the most popular and attainable alternatives.
  • The E-2 Visa: For some, the E-2 visa is a possible alternative facilitated by a treaty signed by the U.S. and participating countries. The E-2 may be a fit primarily for very specific employees with “essential skills.”
  • The E-3 Visa: The E-3 visa is an alternative only applicable to Australian citizens entering the U.S. to perform services in a “specialty occupation,” as defined in the same manner as for an H-1B or TN visa. Although this alternative may seem exclusive, often these employees hold citizenship in more than one country, and they may qualify for an E-3 visa as an H-1B alternative.
  • The L-1 Visa: The L-1 visa is an H-1B alternative for foreign nationals who are considered key employees in overseas operations. There is a specific set of criteria for L-1 visas (and its sub-categories) and it is important to understand what is needed for an employee to be eligible.
  • The H-1B1 Visa: Is the applicant an employee from Singapore or Chile filling a “specialty occupation” role in the company? If so, the H-1B1 visa is a viable alternative visa option.
  • The F-1 OPT STEM Extension: Employees who currently hold F-1 status could be eligible for the F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) STEM extension, an excellent solution to bridge the gap between the expiration of OPT and next year’s H-1B cap season. Another benefit of the STEM extension? In applying for both it and the H-1B visa upon expiration of F-1 OPT status, the candidate has a built in “plan B.”

VISANOW is offering employers a free H-1B alternatives assessment to help human resource professionals and others involved in hiring find out if there are other ways to hire and or retain top talent. Anyone interested in learning more can visit VISANOW on the web at:

Working with individuals and companies, VISANOW streamlines the tedious and confusing visa application process by automatically gathering required information, forms and documents from both the sponsor and applicant, then dynamically generating a complete, accurate and personalized application. At any point in the process, clients have access to attorneys to handle unique needs. This combination of automation, transparency and high customer touch offers an unparalleled user experience, helping clients save time, money and stress. Since inception, the company has prepared cases for tens of thousands of visa applications with a greater than 95 percent approval rate.


VISANOW is a leading provider of online immigration services in the U.S. that integrates the best of both people and technology to provide cost-effective, transparent visa application services. Its patented, online process guarantees fast response times, easy access to case information and comprehensive customer support. Since inception in 1998, the company has assisted tens of thousands of immigrants, business people and international travelers. More information is available at