Author Topic: Visas to work in the USA  (Read 3388 times)

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Visas to work in the USA
« on: Jan 13, 2006, 07:35 pm »

I'm interested in doing internships in stage management in the states, as there are many more opportunities to work there during the summer than here in Canada.

Does anyone know anything about how to go about getting a work Visa and what type I would have to apply for for our field?  I've attempted to find this information on my own, but the US Gov't website gives me a headache because all the documentation is so confusing, and all the websites that deal with getting visas for you are generally targeted at students (which I'm not anymore).

Any help would be appreciated.



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Visa types
« Reply #1 on: Jan 24, 2006, 12:41 pm »
The most important thing to clarify here would be whether you seek a paid or unpaid internship. If it is unpaid, excepting a stipend or living expense reimbursement, you will probably need a B-1 visa. This is a basic business visa that would be required for anyone entering the country to work with a company on an UNPAID basis. It allows you to enter the US for 6 months, even if you need less time.

If you are getting paid, you might consider applying for a O-1 visa. The O-1 is for a temporary worker "of extraodrinary skill or ability." This is not to say that everyone isn't special in some way, but this visa application requires that you go into great detail about why you are the only person IN THE WORLD that should enter the country to engage in a particular project. O-1 is the visa type that foreign artists (famous architects or singers, for example) need in order to enter the US to work on a project. This application benefits from ample submissions of press releases and photocopied news articles, and it also requires a letter of support from a relevant domestic union (AEA, AGMA, etc.). You will have to pay for such a letter, and submitting for that letter can add an extra month to your application process.

With both these visas, you really must have your employment arranged in advance. You stand a much better chance of being approved if you are entering the country for a specific reason, on a project with a specific schedule. If you apply for a visa because you think you might like to take on a project in the US and just want to be ready, your chances of getting approved are slim. To that end - apply well in advance! Getting a visa approved can take three months or more (often more) and there's nothing you can do - short of paying $1,000US to expedite the process. Remember that if you are in the US under an O or B visa, you cannot engage in any academic or educational programs - that would require a separate student visa. For either of these applications, you'll be filling out the "Nonimmigrant visa application" with relevant supplements. Read that website carefully to be sure you have included and completed all supplemental applications!

If you're really lucky, the company that you plan to work with might take care of the visa application process for you - a benefit because any visa issued from a company as opposed to an individual might actually be processed more smoothly. Applying for a visa is tricky the first time you do it, so be prepared to do lots of homework and get very familiar with the US government website: Yes, the website is confusing - but not impossible!


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