Hey guys! Fantastic forum! I wondered if anyone could help me out with a few travel planning issues. Basically I and a few friends, having just graduated this summer from University, were hoping to go out and live in the States next year; Boston (Ma.) to be precise. Anyway, as you can imagine the main setback to this plan has been getting hold of J-1 visas. Initially we thought Bunac or a similar company would be able to help us, however, they only offer visas for the summer holidays (June – Sept, I think). Am I right in thinking the only way to get hold of one is to find an employer in Boston first? Anyway, if anyone could help me out, or point in the direction or some useful websites, I’d be most grateful.
Also, has anyone else been on/planning similar trips, it would be cool to chat, discuss any other major problems etc...
The visa will be your big hurdle. Having a job in waiting will no doubt help but be aware of this issue before you make any plans.
I think you are unfamiliar with the different US visa categories. I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not allowed to give you legal information, but just let me summarize what work visa programs the US has:
J-1 visa--just for seasonal or a temporary project work
H-1B--professional worker visa--for a more permanent worker
H-2B--work visa for skilled or unskilled workers
To give you an idea how difficult it is to get some of these visas, here's a bit of information:
All of the H-1B visas are given out based upon when you apply and there are a limited number per year (around 50,000 I believe). The total number of visas were applied for (all 50,000) before the end of the first day of eligibility (April 1st)this year--meaning they stopped taking applications after that day.
In order to get the visa, you (actually the company that will be employing you, not you) apply on April 1st in order to start work on October 1st or later. The cost (just to apply) is over $1,000 per visa plus processing fees. P.S. Almost all of the applications (over 85% of them) went to the IT consulting firms or IT companies that hire workers from India or Taiwan or Ireland. In fact, here is the list of major H1-B employers:
Needless to say, getting a work visa for the US is difficult.
[ Edit: . ]
Thanks for your help Calcruzer. Yea, it’s the J-1 visa were looking towards as we’re only planning to stay in Boston for 4 months roughly, followed by the 30 days ‘grace’ period for travel. The main problem is that all of the companies I’ve found that offer assistance in acquiring J-1 visas only do so for the summer as part of the Work/Travel Summer Program, whereas I was planning to fly over early in 2011. I was wondering whether there were any ways to acquire a J-1 for the start of 2011? Or am I being somewhat unrealistic in my plans?
Well, the key is that you have to find a program sponsor (translation: someone who will hire you for a job in the USA while you are still outside of the USA). This is not easy. If you can find a company to do this, then the application process is as follows:
P.S. I would check with most foreign companies that have a US office--especially consulting companies.