How far is New York?

The answer depends on where you are sitting. From my hometown in Spain, Motril, is 5,959Km. Or at least Google says so. But I’m referring to figurative distance. How easy or difficult is for a Spanish architect to make it across the Atlantic?

I have worked in London for 10 years and living in New York has been in the back of my mind since 2010. Various reasons slowly push that idea so far back that I nearly forgot about it.

In 2017 I went to run my first NYC marathon. I run again in 2018 and hoping for 2020. It was my first time in NY and the dream of moving there was back on.

I came across Architect-US through one of many Google Search sessions on jobs and Visas in the US. I signed up for the newsletter and reading through their website my hopes plummeted. Upper age limit for a trainee program was 35. I was 36. I moved on and thought that there must be other ways.

At the end of 2019 I finally decided to start looking for opportunities in NY. I sent my resumé to lots of offices, and when I say lots, I mean it. I knew that quite a few of them will discard me right from the start due to the need of a visa, as it later happened. The other few left were happy to explore options and the J1 Visa seems the only available one for three factors: (1) you can apply at any time throughout the year, (2) there is no cap and (3) it’s sponsored by a third party organisation which simplifies life for the architectural office.

There is a very long list of Designated Sponsor Organisations; nearly a hundred for the trainee program. I did spent a fair amount of time going through some of those company websites looking at the requirements, fees, timescales, etc. It all seemed rather complicated.

Overwhelmed by the amount of information and despite the age limit, I decided to have a go again at Architect-US. After a five minutes chat with them they confirmed that I was eligible for the program! I asked them like a thousand questions and I always got a very quick answer. From one day to another I became an expert on how to get your J1.

A few emails after and a couple of papers digitally signed (it’s really that easy), got me the trainee program approved by the Sponsor. I booked the appointment in the US Embassy in Madrid, and within a few days I received the passport with the Visa!

Next steps:

Social Security Number | US bank account | US phone number

Angel Garcia

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