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emigrating to the US


tomzep
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We have a very international bunch on here so I thought I'd asked for a bit of advice or hints.

Basically I currently live in Korea (having lived in Canada before) but grew up in the UK and lived there until 2 and 1/2 years ago. In august my contract here finishes and I want to move to NYC. Getting a Canadian work visa was easy where as a Korean visa was long and frustrating.

I know I have to find an employer to sponsor my visa and that the job must be of a certain professional level to qualify.

What I'm after is any advice on how to find companies that may be willing to sponsor someone and how I may stop firms just tossing my resume away as soon as they see I need a visa

I have the degree and lots of relevant experience in working for non for profit organisation and I'm willing to pay all the visa costs myself.

Anyone ever moved to the USA on a work visa? How did you find your employer? Anything I should be aware of?

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I came to the US in '99 and as silly as this may sound, my advice would be to start with a student visa.

The problem with H-1 (work visas) is two-fold:

The US government gives out a limited amount every year and the company which sponsors you has to prove that you are better than any other US candidate in the country.

You mentioned that you work in the non-profit sector (I work in the arts) and the majority of institutions just don't have the financial and human resources to dedicate to finding the best international candidate.

But most smaller community colleges (US equivalent of a polytechnic) have international offices dedicated to dealing with F-1 visas and I-20 forms etc. (You don't need to go to Yale or Harvard.)

If you've already been working then I presume you have some savings and 6 months to a year in a college program does many things. It would start you off in good 'standing' with the department of homeland security and it will give you American accreditation in your field (you could enroll in courses which are broadly related to your field.)

Once you are here, you can begin networking and interviewing. Then it becomes a lot easier to state the case that you are the right guy for the job and you just need a little help "changing your visa status."

Hope that's of some help.

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US immigration policy is generally beyond Kafka.

British Expats has a forum dedicated to US immigration... there may be a decent chance of finding someone there who's done basically what you're after.

Alternatively, there's always the find an American lady and marry her route...

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Thanks for the answers lads

I have been spoken to two schools about masters courses and have the possibility of doing that. Though it would cost me around $40,000 dollars for tuition and living costs. I have about $20,000 in saving but I am not eligible for loans from anywhere for the rest so I'm looking at partial scholarships but I understand they are a long shot. The authority, what visa did you start with? Can i get a student visa even if i'm not doing a full masters course?

The other thing I should admit is that I have actually met a US lady. That's the reason I want to move there. Weve been together 18 months and it will be over two years by the time we head to America, but I feel scummy doing the marriage thing. I love her but I don't want to say we got married for a visa. I know we would wait to be married if we could chose. Maybe I hold marriage as something too sacred

I'm gonna take a look at that forum for British expats

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I've been in the visa queue for 6 years. I'm a Nurse so I'm skilled employment based (EB3). British Expats is good for feedback.

Ron Gotcher's forum is also good; comprehensive and easy to read although not as active: http://www.immigration-information.com/forums/forum.php

Then there's law firms like Schushtermans - http://shusterman.com/

and Murthys - http://www.murthy.com/

Both have a strong internet presence.

All the best with it. You will need dogged determination, patience and money.

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The other thing I should admit is that I have actually met a US lady. That's the reason I want to move there. Weve been together 18 months and it will be over two years by the time we head to America, but I feel scummy doing the marriage thing. I love her but I don't want to say we got married for a visa.

Then don't say it?! If you love her and you'd probably marry her anyway just get on with it. Don't be so precious about this sort of thing. There is a loop in the system so exploit it. Why make your life harder than it needs to be?

Marry her...... dual citizenship. Robert is your father's brother.

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The green card lottery does still exist: http://www.usgreencardoffice.com/qualifying-countries however if you're from Britain or South Korea (no idea what you classify yourself as) you aren't eligible!

I know a couple that went out there like 15 years ago, but that was pre 9/11 and I gather it was much easier back then. Sounds like a very hard slog and unless you really, really, for some reason, desire to live in the US I'd consider other places like Australia or New Zealand.

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Thanks for the answers lads

I have been spoken to two schools about masters courses and have the possibility of doing that. Though it would cost me around $40,000 dollars for tuition and living costs. I have about $20,000 in saving but I am not eligible for loans from anywhere for the rest so I'm looking at partial scholarships but I understand they are a long shot. The authority, what visa did you start with? Can i get a student visa even if i'm not doing a full masters course?

The other thing I should admit is that I have actually met a US lady. That's the reason I want to move there. Weve been together 18 months and it will be over two years by the time we head to America, but I feel scummy doing the marriage thing. I love her but I don't want to say we got married for a visa. I know we would wait to be married if we could chose. Maybe I hold marriage as something too sacred

I'm gonna take a look at that forum for British expats

The marriage thing is your personal choice and I respect your decision. However it's very easy and more speedy compared to the other routes.

I began on an F-1 visa and I'm pretty sure you should be able to find colleges for less than $40,000. Look at CUNY (City University New York) for example. You also don't have to complete the course. After 2 continuous semesters enrolled in a college program you can stop taking courses and move to OPT status - "Optional Practical Training." This is where you can work for a year in your chosen field for anyone anywhere in the US. Then you can impress your employer enough to sponsor you for a H-1 visa (3 years.) After that you can easily apply for a green card or maybe you will be married by then.

People say it's so hard and I disagree. It's actually just a long process with lots of hoops to jump through. But if you're determined and just stay on top of everything anyone can do it. In my experience people just hear it's difficult and that gives them the excuse to not try.

Finally, don't go for a J-1 student visa. With that visa you have to return to your home country and spread what you've learnt about American culture!

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thanks for the heads up regarding having to return home on the J1 visa. All im really after is sometime in the country to find an employer. I can pay the visa cost just need to be taken on.

Ive noticed theres a fiance visa which gives me three months in America for us to get married. I don't know exactly what makes me uncomfortable about it, just marriage seems so huge and id hate her feeling like i was a burden on her. I hate getting help from people. I know its not the manly thing to say but I cant afford the wedding id want to have and to give her.

oh and im a brit btw. born and raised in brum. just moved away the last couple of years

thanks for all the input lads. appreciate it. heads kind of all over the shop atm

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so last night the Mrs brought up the idea of marrying again to get round all this visa stuff. It seems the student visa is the easiest option for me but involved going to school and spending all my saving, neither of which I'm really keen on. I'm still going with the hope that I can find an employer before August and sort a job out.

Her in doors think that we should just get married in secret, not change her name (apparently women not changing their name pretty common in the US) not tell our folks just get the paper for the visa.

This make me feel shitty and i'm not keen, not exactly how I imagined my wedding and im not sure how we'd refer to each other after that.

My question is really, how does immigration assess a marriage? We will have been together over two years, lived together for one year, have countless friends that can attest to our relationship etc....how hard will they look at our actual wedding?

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The other option is to work for a company in Europe that has a US branch/HQ and move there on an L1. As an exec you can get a max of 7 years, as a specialized worker 5 years. I'm in the latter category with 2 years left, so I need to work out what to do in the next couple of years...

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Not hard at all, I suspected... it's about 10-15 percent who make no name change (more on the east and west coasts, and more in higher social classes). As long as it's reasonably clear that it's a good faith relationship (i.e. not a quicky or mail-order thing) and that you've not just met, you'll get in, but it may take a while.

This was (is?) a fully legal wedding, as were/are this, and this Klingon ceremony (not to mention the self-uniting marriages which the [Quaker-founded, coincidentally] Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recognizes). There's also no reason you couldn't at some future time have a "renewal of vows" ceremony, being a wedding minus the legal proclamations (as such have already occurred).

Pulaski's Ways

The following is an unofficial guide to living and working in the USA by people who have already done it. It is not a definitive or even detailed guide but nevertheless shows the common starting points for the beginning of your journey. Note that it is not legal advice; if you require such advice, AILA is a suitable place for a referral to a specialist US immigration lawyer. Official US government information is available at USCIS and State Dept Bureau of Consular Affairs. Unlike many other popular destinations, the US does not provide specific retirement or skilled trade visas. Please research fully before you ask questions on the forum.

Simplified, there are 3 categories of US visas: immigrant, dual-intent, and non-immigrant.

* Immigrant: You will be a permanent US resident (Green Card). You may under certain conditions subsequently apply for naturalization as a US citizen.

* Non-immigrant: There is normally no specific option to convert to permanent resident status. Additionally, you must intend to leave the US when the reason for your stay no longer exists. The majority of non-immigrant visas (except those which allow "dual intent") require that you maintain a home outside the United States.

* Dual-intent: A special type of non-immigrant status which is compatible with making a concurrent application for permanent resident status (Green Card), or having an intention to apply for permanent residence. There is no requirement to maintain a residence outside the United States. However, while there may be options to apply for permanent residence, there is no automatic route available. The H, K and L visas are the best known types for which dual intent is normally permitted.

Family

* Marriage or engagement in anticipation of marriage to a US citizen. Immigrant or dual-intent visa. Search for: K1, CR-1, K3, direct consular filing (DCF), I-130 petition, Adjustment of Status (AOS).

* You have a close relative (mother, father, child over the age of 21, brother, sister and no further) who is a US citizen who would sponsor you; approx. time for visa is 6 months to 12 years. Immigrant visa. Search for I-130 petition, adjustment of status (AOS).

Work

* You have skills that are in short supply, e.g. scientific or medical training. A degree is normally a must. Or you have superior specialist skills with at least 12 years experience ( 3 years experience for each year of a 4 year degree missing of study). Recruitment agents will not take you seriously if you are not already in the US. Writing for jobs is often futile, and US employers have no idea what many foreign qualifications mean, so it may pay you to get your qualification translated into a US equivalent. You need a job offer before you can get the visa. Your employer will be your sponsor at a cost to them of $5k and up. They may also have to prove to the Dept of Labor there is no American to do the job if the position is to be permanent. Your dependent spouse may not work. Employer can apply to sponsor you in April for an Oct start of the fiscal year, but there is a limited number of visa's issued, current cap of 65K visa's, which fill up quickly, unless the position is exempt from the cap, such as a university position. Dual-intent visa. Search in forums for: H1B Visa

* You have a multinational employer who is willing to transfer you, but even then the employer has to make a good case for you. Your dependent spouse may work. Dual-intent visa. Search for: L1 Visa, intra-company transfer.

* You have a multinational employer who is willing to transfer you, and the company you work for has significant trade between your home country and the US. You also have specialist skills which are essential to the operation of the company. Your dependent spouse may work subject to approval. Search for:E1 Treaty trader. This category is designated for persons engaged in international trade between the U.S. and the aliens’ countries of nationality.

OR you have your own business in the UK, that somebody can manage for you whilst you are in the US

* You have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts (including the television and motion picture industry), education, business, or athletics. Your dependent spouse may not work. Dual-intent visa. Search for: O1 or P1

* You are a foreign member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the US and entering the US to carry on the activities of a minister or religious worker as a profession, occupation or vocation Search for: R1.

* You have an employer willing to offer you seasonal work which U.S. citizens and permanent residents are unavailable to do. Search for H2A (agricultural) or H2B (non-agricultural).

* Note : Getting a Green Card is not necessarily easy even if you are lawfully admitted on a work visa. In most cases employment based green cards require employer sponsorship, labor market testing to prove no American can do the job, and in many cases (especially third preference) the wait may run into years. In other words, a sponsoring employer or job offer is not necessarily enough. The pathway to a green card should be researched before you move to the United States on a non-immigrant visa.

Student

* Short term, but allows for OPT after studies, which is basically for on job training

* F1 visa, from an accredited school, to get this as a rule of thumb, you have to show that you have means to cover the cost of tuition and other living expenses, so around $10K on top of tuition per year at the very least. This can be from having cash in the bank, loans available or other credit, sponsorship or scholarship etc.

* This visa doesn't allow you to work whilst studying for the first semester of the course (6 months), and then after that, only for 20 hours a week on campus.

* Student visas (F) are non-immigrant but in some cases it may be possible to switch to H1-B or a similar visa class on graduation and progress from there to a green card. This is not guaranteed.

Exchange visitors

* The J visa class allows for people to participate in specific exchange programs. Many of these applicable to U.K. citizens are organized by BUNAC and Camp America, the Mountbatten Institute also organises an exchange in NY. Also see State Dept Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Many, but not all, of the the J visa options are for students and recent graduates. J visa is non-immigrant and sometimes has a 2 year home residence requirement once the stay in the U.S. is complete, especially US government funded and medical programs (there is scope for waiver in some circumstances).

Money

* You own or buy business as a national of a qualifying Treaty country. The business must have a minimum value of around $150k (the more, the better) bearing in mind you will need somewhere to live and with any startup business you will need at least 2 years living money as back up. So a figure of $350k would be a nearer minimum. Your dependent spouse may work. Non-immigrant visa with a difficult pathway to a green card. Search for: E2.

* You are an "investor" i.e. you have at least US $1m in assets to invest, or half that in certain areas (plus whatever you will need to live). Your background will be investigated. This is also known as 'investor for alien entrepreneur'. This will give you a 2 year conditional green card, After a 2 year conditional green card you can apply to USCIS to have your conditions removed to be an unconditional permanent resident. Search for EB-5.

Miscellaneous (unlikely for British citizens)

* You participate in, are selected, and successfully process the Diversity Visa lottery. Note that persons born in certain countries including the UK (except N. Ireland) are generally not eligible to apply unless your spouse or both parents were born abroad. Immigrant visa. Search for: diversity visa (DV).

* You are in a position to claim refugee status/political asylum.

* You assist US law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes and terrorist activities such as money laundering and organized crime. Search for: S visa.

* You get a member of Congress to sponsor a private bill with legislation that applies just to you. (extremely rare)

* Australian citizens may qualify for the temporary E-3 visa with a view to obtaining a green card further down the line.

* Canadian and Mexican citizens may qualify for the temporary TN (NAFTA) visa/status. The pathway to a green card is not simple from this visa but it does allow exposure to the U.S. employment market and a possible switch to H1-B later on.

* Citizens of Singapore and Chile with professional occupations may qualify for the special H1B1 visa, similar to H1B (except that dual intent is not specifically permitted), but with its own quota.

* Most citizens of the Pacific nations of Palau, Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia, may seek admission to live and work in the United States under the Compact of Free Association

* Starting 2009, Irish citizens in university education or recently graduated may be eligible for a 12 month working visa. U.S. / Ireland Work & Travel Agreement.

To simplify... the more of these you can answer yes to, the better (though you only need one)

* Are you married to or considering marrying a US citizen, a US permanent resident, or someone on a non-immigrant visa??

* Do you have a child over 21 who is a US citizen?

* Do you work in your home country (or another country outside the US) in a high-or medium-level position for a multinational employer with offices in the US?

* Do you have an extraordinary ability (usually, national or international recognition) in anything?

* Do you have a sibling over 21 who is a US citizen?

* Do you have a parent who is/was a US citizen?

* Do you have a parent who is a US permanent resident?

* Do you have an academic degree?

* Do you have specialist skills?

* Are you an accomplished fashion model?

* Are you a minister of religion or religious worker?

* Are you interested in menial seasonal work?

* Are you interested in becoming a student and, if so, do you have the necessary capital?

* Are you a student or recent graduate in your home country?

* Are you a potential intern/trainee for an organization such as a hotel?

* Do you have at least $200,000 in cash and an entrepreneurial spirit?

* Do you have at least $500,000 in cash?

* Do you have at least $1,000,000 in cash?

* Do you have a business in another country and are you in a position to expand your business activities to the US?

* Are you in a position to claim refugee status/political asylum?

* Are you an Australian citizen?

* Are you a Canadian or Mexican citizen?

* Are you a Singaporean or Chilean citizen?

* Are you a citizen of the Pacific nations of Palau, Marshall Islands or Federated States of Micronesia?

* Are you 50% Native American by blood but born in Canada?

* Are you an Irish citizen in university education or recently graduated?

* Were you, your spouse or your parents born in any country other than Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, or Vietnam? (* note - this list changes over time).

* Do you have current knowledge to assist US law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes and terrorist activities such as money laundering and organized crime?

* Do you have connections with a member of Congress?

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