Saturday, 9 July 2011

How did I get a visa to work in the US

Hi everybody,

A question that has been asked to me so much since I made the decision to come over to the states. "how did you get a visa?"
This is where I became very very fortunate, just.

When I arrived at the end of August, I got my modeling portfolio sent out to me. The reason I did this was because I first arrived on a tourist visa, which literally anyone can get, lasting 90 days. So, if my bags were searched, which does happen in the US, and they found my portfolio, they would think I am here to work illegally. I couldn't take this risk as I was moving here for someone and to follow my heart. Through my agency back in the UK, they helped set up some open call's with agencies in LA. This simply means anyone who wants to model here goes to an open call in hope of becoming a model.

I went round to LA Models first, they said no. I then went to a smaller agency called Q Models. They showed a lot of enthusiasm for me and said they would give me an answer very soon (something you hear a lot in LA). No word back at all.

Third on the list was well renowned agency Wilhelmina Models. This was the busiest of all open calls. A room full of people - certainly not models! It was amazing! One of the strangest experiences of my life. The hopes, the dreams, the aspirations of so many in the room who believed this was their destiny. There was desperation from so many too, you could see it in their eyes. I wish I had a picture of everybody in the room. One (I kid you not) looked like she was a man! One was a scrawny boy who was about 5ft 3. Another was a man who looked about 40 odd, beer gut the lot! One was a cocky, arrogant, young "douchbag" who thought he was gods gift. He turned up with his "manager" and got bombed so bad! Was so so so funny!
Anyways, everybody had to put their portfolios or pictures on the table and they were collected in. If your portfolio was returned, then you were not successful. Fortunately for me, mine never came back, and was the only one that did not come back. (whether that was a huge compliment considering some of the people in the room, I'm not so sure)
I got called into the room and met Paul Nelson, the head of the men's division in LA. A very nice guy who was straight to the point, that he liked me, liked my look and would help me get a visa! All would be done through their lawyers so I wouldn't have to do hardly anything! Simple!

I was over the moon! It was just the help I needed and I knew now that I could relax a bit more and enjoy getting used to life in the city and to getting to know my lovely new girlfriend some more.

Next step involved waiting, and waiting, and waiting for more news on the development. Originally they applied for a an O visa, a popular visa for models, actors and entertainers, that allows not just a specific job role. This was the ideal visa for me that could free me up to start looking into other adventures and potential work placements. A few weeks later though, disaster struck! The American government announced no more O visa's will be given out to models. (Great!) Fortunately, Wilhelmina were straight on the case and applied for a H1B visa for me. This visa is similar, but only entitles you to work for the company that sponsored you. At the time I had no care in the world about this and was very keen to just get whatever visa I could to ensure I could stay here.

After finding and attaching as many articles of my previous work that I could, getting references from around the world with agencies I've represented and filling out detailed forms regarding my work and what companies I've worked for etc, he application was in! A month or so later, success!!!!!!!! I had been granted the work visa and was on my way!

I hope this answers questions for anyone who was interested in how I managed to get my working visa. Feel free to post a comment if not.

Keep well

JAmes

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