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Getting work as a foreigner


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#1 Miguel Luis

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 10:00 PM

Hi, I'm currently an international student on an F-1 visa. I plan on working in the US for after graduating, and I've always wondered how it works. I understand that to get any work in the US, I will need a work visa. And to get a work visa, I need to find a company that is willing to sponsor me.

Now, how does it work in the film industry?
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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 10:35 PM

In brief it doesn't. Film work is freelance and based on work availability so the odds of a production company jumping through the hoops with the INS are quite low. Your only chance would be to find a production company that would hire you as a M-F 9-5 worker, and help you get an H-1. Which will be very difficult to get given the current employment situation in the USA. The employer will need to prove to the INS that there are no qualified Americans that can do your job, this will be near impossible with film and video production.

Film people can work in the US with an O-1, but this is only for film professionals with extensive resumes that will work at the producer/director level and already have numerous credits on professional productions. Processing and legal starts at $5000.00 USD FYI.

The H-1 would be your best bet, but it's a long and expensive road. If you're single, then your fastest route to be able to stay and work in the USA would be to marry a US citizen, that is the reality.

I'm not an expert on US immigration but I play one on TV. B)

R,
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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 08:35 AM

I've also looked into this extensively and it has been discussed on the forum a few times - run a search.


The O-1 situation is complicated. On paper, it's intended for "aliens of extraordinary ability", which is probably where Mr Boddington gets "film professionals with extensive resumes". I know several people who have managed to obtain O-1 visas on what I consider to be the sketchiest of evidence, who were certainly not "film professionals with extensive experience", so it certainly can be done. This is of course not to question the qualifications of every O-1 visa holder, but the idea that you absolutely have to be a massively experienced high-level expert with credits on a million blockbusters is simply not the case. What you do need to have is some press coverage and a three to five people who are willing to write (or at least sign) one or more letters describing your high-level genius, unmatchable abilities and enormous breadth and depth of experience. These letters need to be almost embarrassingly effusive, since they're intended to impress Americans who by and large have a fairly high threshold for that sort of thing in any case, and writing them is an art in itself.


If you can pull all that off, it is at least theoretically possible to do it. There are even people on this forum who've filled in the forms themselves and succeeded, but I suspect it's probably worth having an immigration lawyer at least look over your documentation to ensure you don't waste the application fee on an obviously-inadequate pack of paperwork, or by making some sort of simple mistake. What I wouldn't do is apply until you've been reliably informed you'll succeed, because a previous rejected application may act as a black mark against any made in the future.


Personally I'm in a situation where I have done more work for LA and New York based companies this year than I have for people in the UK, the joys of the internet being what they are, so all I'm actually doing is taking money out of the US economy and returning not a cent in either tax or general expenditure. It would be vastly better and more convenient for both me and the US treasury if I were to relocate, but still, if that's how they want it...


P
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#4 Miguel Luis

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 11:43 PM

Phil, thanks for the (much less cynical) response to my query.

Now, Richard suggested going for a 'normal' 9-5 job. This is something I've also considered as a means of having a legal reason to stay here. WIth a film degree though, what kind of jobs would I be looking for?
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Visual Products

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Broadcast Solutions Inc

Wooden Camera

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Ritter Battery

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Metropolis Post

Technodolly

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Glidecam

Tai Audio

Abel Cine