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I am currently working in a MNC, I can get a US based job on a L1B visa which is valid for 3 years. Once in the US I can apply for an H1B which is based on a lottery. The L1B may be extended by 2 years for a total of 5. If I don't get an H1B in this time I am forced to go back.

After spending 5 years on the L1B+H1B I can apply for a green card in EB2 (since I'll have more than 5 years experience by then). This will have a minimum waiting period of 10 years (in reality much more). During this waiting period I need to renew the H1B annually, risking a renewal rejection each time.

Additionally, US immigration may or may not allow me to enter the country every time I go home on vacation essentially meaning that I am required to stay in the US util I get my green card (or naturalization?).

Is it just me, or does an India -> US migration require a massive amount of luck in addition to everything else? There just seem to be too many points at which you can be rejected.

(This is assuming I work for a single company throughout)

closed as primarily opinion-based by Karlson, Dirty-flow, Flimzy, drat, SztupY May 2 '14 at 10:45

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Fact is that by immigrating you typically have fewer rights than citizens so there is always the possibility that something you need will be denied at some stage. However, while I can't comment on the US specifically, the mere possibility that a renewal could be refused does not necessarily mean that it's completely arbitrary either. Many countries follow guidelines and just renew such things as a matter of course as long as you still fulfill the criteria. It does not mean that nothing can ever go wrong but you don't need a massive amount of luck to succeed. – Gala Apr 30 '14 at 10:50
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    @GaëlLaurans yeah, its just that countries like Denmark,Norway and UAE do not have as much of fuzziness as the US rules do. They have very clear requirements on how one can get a permanent residency and citizenship (which UAE doesnt allow). However there seems to be a lot more subjective decisions with US as compared to the others, with stuff like denial for immigration intent and similar vague denials – user762 Apr 30 '14 at 12:29
  • H1B is only a lottery if it is over-subscribed, and if you work for a non-profit or a university, you don't count towards over subscription. Also, I believe you can apply for a green card as soon as you get an H1B. (Although you might need your employer to agree). – Jeremy Miles Apr 30 '14 at 16:19
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    In general, a bigger concern is perhaps what would happen if things don't go as planned. Say your job is not what you expected, your employer fires you or goes bankrupt, you have an accident or get seriously ill, you separate from your partner who is also your visa sponsor, etc. In that case, the problem is not so much a visa renewal denied out of the blue but the fact that your visa situation makes all your other problems that much worse and you can't decide when and whether to move out on your own terms. – Gala Apr 30 '14 at 21:53
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    @Flimzy there are tangible risks associated with immigrating to the US that can be objectively assessed making this question not simply an opinion poll. – StrongBad May 1 '14 at 8:13
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Hundreds of thousands of Indian citizens are working in the US quite happily, traveling abroad, getting green cards, etc etc.

Several comments about your assumptions:

After spending 5 years on the L1B+H1B I can apply for a green card in EB2 (since I'll have more than 5 years experience by then).

That is not exactly correct. Experience with the same employer counts only if your GC is for a significantly different position. I know of several people who were acting under this assumption and ended up switching jobs because it was the only way to get these 5 years count towards EB2.

This will have a minimum waiting period of 10 years (in reality much more). During this waiting period I need to renew the H1B annually, risking a renewal rejection each time.

Why would you be risking rejections? As long as your application is pending and you're in good status - why would it be rejected? The annual extension of H1b during the pending I-485 is essentially automatic as long as nothing else changes.

Additionally, US immigration may or may not allow me to enter the country every time I go home on vacation essentially meaning that I am required to stay in the US until I get my green card (or naturalization?).

Theoretically they have the right not to let you in any time you cross the border. Practically - they should have a really good reason for this. If you're traveling on AP (which you'll have once your I-485 is pending) - you won't even need a visa sticker in your passport.

Is it just me, or does an India -> US migration require a massive amount of luck in addition to everything else?

It is just you. The only time where you need luck is the initial H1b lottery. Everything else can be expected ahead of time and taken care of before it causes problems.

  • Thanks, those are the details I was looking for, esp about the auto renewal. About the significantly different position, do promotions count (say, moving from a junior dev to a senior dev(a position which requires 6+ years experience) )? or, moving to a different developer position in the same company.. Any guidelines? – user762 May 1 '14 at 15:45
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    @user762 promotions do not count as it is mostly the scope of the work that changes, not the type. Moving to a different vertical (say from engineer to manager) may count. Either way, it will likely to trigger a PERM audit. I know of at least one person who was told by the (employer's!) lawyer that he can only get EB2 if he quits the current employer and finds a new one. Which he did. – littleadv May 1 '14 at 16:16
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The answer is yes, being a non citizen in the country you live/work in generally means you are more at risk. I am not familiar with the exact rules of what happens if an H1B visa is not renewed or if you lose your job. In the UK the corresponding scheme requires you to leave the country as soon as possible, but it is an undefined period of time. This means if you get laid off/made redundant you need to sell your house, uproot your family and move back to a country you no longer call home.

As for the total risk that is really a matter of opinion. There are thousands of people who successfully negotiate and deal with the additional risks of being an expat. To many people the benefits far outweigh the risks. I know a lot of people who do not want to live abroad, but I have never heard anyone say the potential risk of deportation as being a critical factor.

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