When the J-1 visa is about to end, there are a mix of feelings that arise in all of us. In one hand, there is sadness and nostalgia because of leaving a place where you have lived such an intense experience. But in the other hand, one can also feel excitement for the next step in your life. Wether your idea is to keep living and working in the USA or, on the contrary, you are thinking about living new experiences in other places, I have some recommendations and orientations based on my personal experiences and ideas:
H-1B and O-1 visas.
These are the most common visas that professionals usually apply to keep working in the US. H-1B visa is a work visa given by lottery and the application process is done in April. O-1 visa is an “artist” visa that qualifies you with the funny name of “alien of extraordinary ability”and I believe that you can do it anytime. Both visas are linked to the company you want to work with, so that means that they have to trust you and pay for you. Also you will have to pay for it and spend a lot of time and energy dealing with papers and lawyers. In my opinion, these visas are recommendable if you really want to keep working in a certain company for a long time, as your visa is linked to the company. However, I am pretty sure that if you want to change of company there are ways. To achieve this I have heard about the possibility but I don’t know exactly what is the procedure.[Editor’s note: Read the post “The road to an O-1 visa”, to know how spanish architect Claudia Conde got an O-1 visa after her Architect-US Career Training Program.]
If you are interested in doing postgraduate studies or a PhD you must know that American Universities are the best in the world but also the most expensive. Harvard GSD, MIT, Columbia, Yale, UCLA, etc. don’t need presentation. If you really want it and can’t economically afford it there are many scholarships. The two I think that are the most popular and recognized are Fulbright and La Caixa fellowships. The last one, La Caixa, has a wide offer for postgraduates. So if you are interested in trying experiences in other parts of the world, they give you the possibility to study in Europe, Asia and Oceania as well.
You can also get married with an American person, but if you don’t find your love in this country you can try luck with the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery. The application process is opened between October and November and the results are given by May. It’s a very simple and free process to register for it so you just need to have your fingers crossed.
Meet the right person in the right moment.
You never know who are you gonna meet tomorrow and maybe that can change completely your life. I mean that America is full of opportunities and if you are lucky you can meet someone interested on you that makes very easy for you to stay working in the US. You never know so stay aware of the opportunities knocking on the door!
Regardless this options, if you are going through your last months of your J-1 visa my best advise is the following: enjoy your time here!!!