What You Should Know About Employment Visas in the Arts Amid COVID-19

By Fei Wang (ARAD ‘21)

Given the current COVID-19 circumstances, what are some opportunities and challenges for international students in their post-graduation period? In a recent webinar co-hosted by ARAD and TC Alumni Relations, Rakhel Milstein, founder and CEO of the Milstein Law Group discussed some important types of employment visas in the arts for international students. She was joined by ARAD alumna Alexis Yuen (‘16) who moderated the question period afterward. (You can watch the full webinar here.)

 

The webinar focuses on the O-1 and H-1B visa options for international students who want to seek temporary employment after obtaining a graduate degree in arts administration and other arts areas. Here are some of the key takeaways from the webinar. Please note: due to COVID-19, the following may change. It is important to consult with an immigration lawyer to understand the latest regulations. 

 

  1. The O-1 visa, which is for people with extraordinary abilities, is one of the best options for foreign nationals in the arts. Many arts administrators overlook this category because it’s described as being based on “extraordinary ability” in the arts, sciences, athletics, business, education, or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture and television industry. However, this is a visa category that can also be applied to arts administrators. Different from the H-1B visa that has a quota each year, the O-1 is a three-year visa and doesn’t have an annual quota and therefore can be applied if the H-1B quota for the year has already been filled. 

 

O-1 Visa Requirements:

  • US petitioner
    • An employer or an individual acting as your agent for the O-1 visa petition
  • Proof of future work offers
  • Evidence of extraordinary ability
    • Demonstrating at least three of the following six categories:
      • Has and will perform a lead or starring role in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation
      • National or international recognition
      • Has and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation
      • Commercial or critically acclaimed successes
      • Significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field
      • A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services to others in the field
    • Records for the O-1 Evidence
      • Published reviews of your work, performances, exhibitions, etc 
      • Your published work in your field
      • Evidence of any awards or prizes for work in your field
      • Letters of recommendation from experts in your field
      • Programs, playbills, or advertisements evidencing your role in performances
      • Box office receipts, ore record, cassette, compact disk, or video sales
  • Letters of recommendation

 

It’s important to build your case to prove your achievements by preparing the materials above for a successful O-1 visa application. There is no disadvantage of applying for an O-1 visa outside of the U.S., and the applicant can take the time to reach out to contacts and get as much evidence as possible. An immigration lawyer can discuss how your experience as an arts administrator would fit the above criteria.

 

  1. H-1B is a work visa for occupations that require at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in a specific specialty as a minimum for entry into the field. For this type of visa, the types of degree and employer (nonprofits vs. for-profits) matter, and a specific salary is required as well. 

 

H-1 Requirements: 

  • Job offer from an employer that will sponsor visa including paying all immigration fees
  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a major closely related to H-1B position
  • H-1B petition must be filed with USCIS by April 1st to be authorized to work in the following October
  • There are an additional 20,000 available for positions requiring a master’s degree and some additional narrow exemptions. 

 

The H-1B visa has an annual quota of 65,000 H-1B spots every year for for-profit companies and organizations. For people who obtain a master’s degree from a US institution, there are additional 20,000 spots. Given this limitation on the number of H-1Bs, there is a lottery every year to process the H-1B visa application. 

 

However, many arts organizations and other nonprofits organizations may qualify for the H-1B exemption, which means you don’t need to enter into the lottery to apply for the H-1B visa. Each organization would have their specific policies in terms of sponsoring H-1Bs, and it is important to know their hiring policies in advance. 

 

Both the O-1 and H-1B visas provide opportunities for international students to work in the U.S., while they have different requirements that we should be aware of and make plans accordingly. O-1 visa might broaden the opportunities for people in the arts who can demonstrate extraordinary achievements. It’s key to build our portfolio well in advance to make the application process as successful as possible with objective evidence. 

 

Both Rakhel and Alexis stressed the importance of being prepared for the visa application process well in advance. You can find more information about immigration law or connect with lawyers specializing in this field on the Milstein Law Group website as well as the Center for Art Law

 

An Interview with ARAD’s new Social Media Coordinator, Isabella Rivera

Isabella.jpg

 

Isabella Rivera is currently pursuing her Master’s in Arts Administration at Teachers College and is ARAD’s Social Media Coordinator. She recently graduated from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez with a B.B.A. in Marketing and a Minor in Fine Arts. She also studied at UMass Amherst and Cornell University. Her passions lie in contemporary and feminist art, photography, and nonprofit work. Last year, her volunteer experience at the Museum of Art at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez (MUSA)—as well as her aunt Carmen Fishler Ruiz—inspired her to further explore the art field as a career path, which she says “happily brought her to ARAD.”

What is your role as social media coordinator?

As social media coordinator, I oversee ARAD’s Facebook and Twitter social media platforms. My work involves creating content, researching and coordinating social media posts in collaboration with ARAD’s staff and faculty on a daily basis.

What do you look forward to within this position?

Now that I am Social Media Coordinator, one of the things I’m looking forward to is having the opportunity to meet more ARAD alumni and assist with my photography and editing skills during special events. I’m also very humbly excited to just be part of the team, learn, and grow closer to this amazing program at TC.

Why is ARAD’s social media important?

ARAD’s social media is important because we have the responsibility to inform and provide essential opportunities to alumni, prospective and current students.  Keeping an active presence on Facebook and Twitter is a critical way to connect with our audience and develop the best marketing efforts for ARAD’s community and individuals interested in our program.

What past experiences help you with this job?

For most of my undergrad years, I was lucky enough to work in two part-time jobs that required creating ongoing original content and intensive digital marketing efforts, which have prepared me to work with ARAD’s platforms now. I love the flexibility and creative independence that goes into managing social media, and ARAD has given me the chance to explore that further more.

What else are you up to this semester?

This semester I’m taking courses at TC such as Cultural Policy, Organizational Psychology, P&P Visual Arts and Marketing for the Arts that will essentially help in my strategic planning when it comes to ARAD’s social media. I’ve also been wanting to broaden my skills and professional development further more within the Arts Administration field and have recently accepted an internship at Independent Curators International (ICI) in the development department for the Spring 2020 semester.

Welcome Isabella!

ARAD Holiday Project Spreads Cheer to Two Arts Organizations

Last fall, the students in the Arts Administration Program’s Service Corp worked diligently to make our annual Holiday Service Project a success.

This year, the ARAD Service Corps included Sabrina Chen, Christine Chuang, Cornelia Clay, Lulu Feng, Richard Mayer, Isabella Rivera, and Monika Xu, who, with support from ARAD staff, Jessie Young and Katarina Wong, spearheaded a bake sale fundraiser. In addition, they organized the December Holiday Service Event, which brought students, staff, and faculty together for an evening of camaraderie as we assembled 45 gift bags for Art Start students and their families.

Through the ARAD Service Corps efforts, we received in-kind donations from Dunkin’ Donuts and Joe Coffee for a bake sale that raised $300, and a generous gift card from Fairway. The proceeds will support two non-profit arts organization: Art Start brings arts programming to at-risk youth. Art Start kids live in city shelters, on the streets, are involved in court cases, or surviving with parents in crisis; and Every Voice Choirs, which is housed here at TC and helps young people ages 7-16 discover their voices and share them with pride.

This was the second year that our Holiday Service Project was led by ARAD students. Through the Service Corps, students have the opportunity to manage a multi-faceted project, apply what they learned academically, and build their professional skills.

As first-year ARAD student Cornelia Clay noted, “By soliciting donations for the holiday service project, I was able to implement a concept from our Support Structures class, namely that it becomes simple to ask for support for a project when you can demonstrate the project’s impact, value, and importance—and even more so when you believe in those things yourself! Asking Fairway for a donation was a good start, because they had donated before. Their participation gave me more confidence to approach Joe Coffee for a donation of in-kinds goods to our bake sale. Expressing not only why the project was worthy of support but also my own enthusiasm for the potential impact of the proposed donations was effective, and we were delighted they decided to participate.”

ARAD extends its gratitude to our Service Corps members and acknowledges the hard work and creativity that made our project another success! For those who attended the event, donated, and/or supported our bake sale, thank you for helping us bring some holiday cheer to those in our community in need.

Check out some of the photos from the ARAD Holiday Service Event below.

 

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