Episode 52 – Work permits in the United States – Amanda Gillespie on the ins and outs of the visa process

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Episode 51 – Programming for creatives
December 8, 2015
Episode 53 – Actionable Goals
December 23, 2015
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Episode 52 – Work permits in the United States – Amanda Gillespie on the ins and outs of the visa process


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Amanda Gillespie is Manager of Extraordinary Ability Cases for Samuel Christensen Law Firm PLLC in New York. Amanda works daily with many of the artists and creatives alike migrating to the United States each year, helping build their cases and assisting them in the process of obtaining visas, greencards and work permits to work in the U.S.

This subject, especially for a lot of visual effects artists, game designers, directors, musicians, and other creatives in our industry is quite a ellusive subject, as many of us aspire to at some point in our career work in the UK, EU, AU, CAN, USA and other countries and typically it’s not so straight forward in terms of obtaining exactly ‘how’ to go about this.

Whether you have always wanted to work in the U.S. or you simply might want to take some of the insights here to apply to your plans to work in other countries – this episode is a goldmine of information straight from one of the top authorities on this subject.

One that I personally have worked with personally throughout the process of most of my visas while living in the United States, Amanda is able to share such a great wealth of knowledge on the subject, as well as answer a lot of listeners questions that were submitted about where to start and what to expect during the process.

I can already tell this will be a favorite among many of us!

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Amanda Gillespie contact information




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  1. David Larsen says:

    I’m a student with an unimpressive resume. Let’s say I get a US sponsor, will my lack of work experience be a problem when applying for a visa? Should I wait until I have have something on a paper to show? I don’t expect that a showreel or portfolio would be of use here.

    • amckay says:

      David it’s definitely a great question – what typically is going to happen is the employer will contact their firm they hire for visas, and they’ll look over your credentials and decide if you are a good case or not. You are right – here you need two tiers: 1) a strong reel for your employer, to get the job but then 2) an impressive resume to validate your value to the USCIS who handles approving your visa. So this is why it might take some time to be quantifiable within the US but don’t let that time go to waste..

      First – it never hurts to try, if you get an offer, and you dont quite qualify for a visa, at least you know where you stand and what you need to work on. But in the meantime, focus on building up a strong amount of media, publications, whatever you can do, all of this will help with the visa process. So try to hit it from every angle.

      The main thing to overcome is that you’re essentially needing to prove to the US government that you are able to fulfill a job that nobody else in the US is able to do, which is why they need to bring you in from another country, and give away an american job to a foreigner. It’s not as black and white as that, but in essence that is what you need to reason with. So it does take time, some country’s have working holiday visas, spouse visas and other options – the US is a little bit stricter, but it just takes time. But put that time to good use, if you consider your resume unimpressive, put in the time to make it impressive over the next 2-3 years and hit it from every angle, all that PR stuff I mentioned, high profile jobs, big recognizable studios etc. Do whatever you can. Best of luck!

      • David Larsen says:

        Thank you so much for that details response Allan, that is some good advice. I didn’t think to check for a reply until you released the new episode 54.

  2. Darren says:

    Awesome!! Thanks for a great episode.

  3. Shahnam says:

    Hi Allan,
    Thanks so much for putting this podcast and interview together. Not only was it a good change from your usual VFX training (which are just as appreciated) the interview itself was very informative and well-conducted. I’d request you to do a follow up soon and if possible, focus on how’s it getting to and working in Europe which you mentioned in the beginning of your podcast.
    Thanks again,

    • amckay says:

      Thanks Shahnam, check out episode 54, I did go a bit more in-depth on visas, especially more my take on it all. It’s not as laser focused on EU but I’ll definitely look into it for further episodes! EU is a tricky one if you’re not part of it, typically you’ll need to get sponsored by a company to go over and then you’ll have to stay in that particular country for a year, after which you can get a different type of visa (I think they’re blue and green visas?) so you can move around more. But it’s definitely a bit trickier than some other areas.

      Thanks for the insight’s Shahnam!

  4. Fredrika Erlandsson says:

    Thanks for a great episode Allan, and thank you for asking my question! It was really interesting to listen to.

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