I believe this will be an informative post for all the participants like me who want to keep working in the US.
I am currently mid-process of applying for the O1 visa. Here are a few tips that you might find helpful for you:
- Keep track of the time you’ll need to work on your portfolio: Working at an architectural office can take a lot of time. This means that at the end of the day, you won’t have enough patience to work on your portfolio. It takes a lot of time because you’ll have to collect all the information about your past achievements as an architect and artist, you’ll have to contact people who engaged with you in those activities and you’ll have to produce a file that reflects your path and what you’ve accomplished to do so far. So be mindful that it takes a lot of time. I would start at least 6 months before your current visa expires. But if you’re a lazy person like me, I would advise you to start doing at least 9 months earlier.
- Make sure that you’re building the most exciting portfolio that you can: Before start working on your portfolio, you must think about what you’ve accomplished so far. Do you have work that was published in any way? Have you participated in any exhibits? Are you part of an artistic institution? If you can answer yes to all these questions, I think you have at least a small chance of getting it! So include information related to these publications, exhibitions, or institutions in your portfolio. Unlike the portfolios that you build to seak for a job, these kinds of portfolios must include all the information available about you. Even the one that you don’t think it’s that relevant, you must include it.
- Contact a specialized lawyer as soon as possible: Before you start working on anything, you must contact a lawyer which is specialized in these kinds of visa applications. She or he will tell you exactly what you need to do. This is not my first step because most lawyers ask for your resume and portfolio before they accept to represent you. They will let you know before the beginning of the process if you have a chance of getting the visa or not.
- Coordinate with your lawyer before start asking for recommendation letters: Your lawyer will ask you for at least 12 recommendation letters from people who have worked with you, from former employers, from your current employer and future sponsor, from clients and from people who can provide information about the kind of person you are. These letters are super important so you must think ahead who you’ll choose to write them. Make a list of all the people who you’ve engaged professionally with and ask them to be as accurate as possible about what they will write about.
- Save time to revise your portfolio: Your lawyer will review your portfolio and resume and let you know what can be improved. My lawyer said I should include everything that I’ve worked on and don’t overthink it. All the information is valuable because it reveals that you have had a continuous artistic path and you’re eager to keep working on it.
- Ask your employer/sponsor to write an engagement letter: This letter must describe what will be the job position waiting for you. It’s fairly simple but you should be mindful of your sponsor’s time.
- Wait and hope that everything goes well: This is the hardest task, unfortunately. But I strongly believe that if you’re a hard worker you’ll get whatever you want. So let’s do it and hope for the best! If not, you can always go back to your home country, where your family and friends will receive you with arms wide open.
Break a leg!