One thing I’m always asked here in New York and on Snapchat (username: lcscloset) is what visa are you on? It’s funny, when you meet other people here who clearly aren’t American, the conversation usually starts with your name and where you’re from followed by “so what visa are you on?” It’s almost second nature at this stage, so I’m used to being asked it over here. While I was home at Christmas though, this was something I was asked way more than I expected.
I guess there’s a lot of people out there eager to make the move at some stage, but unless you’re one of the lucky few with a golden ticket (aka an American passport) the whole visa situation can be very confusing. The girls and I always joke that you become a bit of a visa expert when you move here, and I think it’s the same for everyone who wants to stay in America.
Personally, I moved here on a 1 year J1 visa in September 2014. Being Irish and a recent graduate, I was eligible for this visa for a year after my graduation. When I graduated in June 2014 I knew I definitely wanted to move here within the year, and after toying with the idea of heading to London for a few months, I decided to bite the bullet and make the move! It definitely hasn’t been easy and there are a lot of things I miss about home, but so many amazing things have happened in that time too…
Obviously, I’ve been here for longer for than a year, so what gives? Well, around this time last year the company I was working for decided to sponsor me for a H1B visa. With this visa, your employer basically sponsors you because of your specialised knowledge or skills. Visa wise, this was pretty much my only option to stay here and it’s not an easy visa to get. I think something like 240,000 people applied for 60,000 visas last year, which is a crazy amount of people and meant all 240,000 applicants ended up in a lottery system to be selected for the visa. To be honest, I still can’t believe I was one of the lucky ones who actually got it! But I did, thank god, and so I’m still here.
To apply for the H1B, you have to have at least a third level degree that meets American University standards (you need this for the J1 too). The application window opens on April 1st, so if you want to go for this visa you should have your application ready to submit on April 1st. A quick tip for anyone with a masters (or higher) from a US University – you guys have 2 chances to get through the lotto stage of the H1B selection. The H1B is for 3 years, so at the moment I can stay here until at least September 2018. After that, who knows, but there are some options available…
Photos by Tara Marzuki
These aren’t the only visa options open to people who want to move here. For example, there’s a J1 trainee visa that people with experience in their field can apply for and an O visa for people who are exceptionally talented or experts in their area of practice. So if you really want to move here, my advice is to do your research! There are a lot of different visas out there for people with different skill sets, people who work with different companies and within different fields, so make sure you know what options might be open to you.
On a lighter note, a quick few words about my look. Last Saturday I met fellow Irish blogger Tara for coffee in one of my favourite (Insta-worthy) cafe’s – Cafe La Cerra. Tara moved here on New Year’s eve on the J1 visa, just like myself. It’s funny how many Irish blogger gals are in New York now, but it’s a good thing. After our coffee’s (I may have had 2 – oops) we went for a stroll to Bryant Park and shot this look. Tara has an amazing eye for a good shot and a great camera. I absolutely love the final result!! Just one perk of having a group of bloggers gals here in New York is they sure do know how to take a good shot. 😉