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

 

Ulrike Figueroa Vilchis on being awarded a Fulbright Fellowship

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Ulrike with her Fulbright award certificate

Ulrike Figueroa Vilchis (ARAD 2020)  is a Fulbright-García Robles and Conacyt-Finba grantee. She earned her BA in Art History from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. She began her career in the arts as Intern Coordinator in the Education Department of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, collaborating closely with the Registrar, Conservation, Special Events and Development departments. At the PGC, Ulrike led over 380 international interns. Upon her return to Mexico, Ulrike joined the Ministry of Culture where she was commissioned to the Technical Cabinet of the Presidency to work on special projects curating temporary exhibitions, researching archives and developing content for publications. Her passion for the arts has led Ulrike to diversify her experience organizing experimental dining events with Kitchen Theory, launching an art and lifestyle magazine, a Mexican culture blog, leading tours and educational workshops. Her ambition lies in strengthening and expanding the Mexican arts and culture sector through strategy, and advocating for favorable public policies to encourage social development through the arts.

During her time in ARAD, Ulrike interned at Art in General and MoMA, was Programming Co-Chair of Student Advocates for the Arts, received a TC Student Leadership Grant and ARAD microgrant for professional development.

Continue reading “Ulrike Figueroa Vilchis on being awarded a Fulbright Fellowship”

An interview with Lonnie Woods III, the ARAD Professional Development Coordinator

 

Lonnie Woods III is an artist, educator and student affairs professional who is dedicated to the professional and academic development of art students. Lonnie brings extensive experience in art student advising, professional development coaching and program facilitation. Lonnie has held academic and career advising roles at NYU and The George Washington University in Washington D.C. Lonnie currently serves as lead instructor for the Brooklyn Arts and Culture Program which is an emerging arts administrator internship program for high school students hosted at the Brooklyn Academy of Art (BAM). Lonnie received a B.S. in Fine Art Photography from Towson University and holds a MA in Higher Education and Student Affairs from NYU.

Continue reading “An interview with Lonnie Woods III, the ARAD Professional Development Coordinator”

Student Advocates for the Arts, Covid-19 and the National Arts Action Summit 

For the past five years, Student Advocates for the Arts has attended the nation’s largest arts advocacy event: the National Arts Action Summit and Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. This year, one of the largest SAA groups, composed of eleven members from across the Arts and Humanities department, was due to attend the summit from March 28-31.

To support our participation, we received an ARAD microgrant for our registration fees and accomodation in Washington D.C. We are grateful for the program’s support of our members, many of whom would not have been able to participate in the planned summit without these funds. Early in March, however, the COVID-19 crisis changed our plans. 

Continue reading “Student Advocates for the Arts, Covid-19 and the National Arts Action Summit “

What You Need to Know about CPT and OPT: F1 Employment for International Students

Whether it’s for the ARAD internship requirement or for post-graduation career development, it’s helpful for international students to be familiar with the employment process in order to transition smoothly into professional life.

Continue reading “What You Need to Know about CPT and OPT: F1 Employment for International Students”

CULTURE AT THE SERVICE OF THE LIVING, Distinguished Speaker Series with Michael Mason, Director of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

By Liliana Guerrero (ARAD ’21)

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Dr. Michael Mason, Director of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, presented “Cultural Sustainability at the Smithsonian: How a Framework for Relationships, Understanding, and Action Transformed a Fifty-Year-Old Institution” on the center’s work on cultural sustainability. His talk was part of the Arts Administration program’s Distinguished Speaker Series, a platform for students to gain insights on different subjects in the field of arts administration.

Continue reading “CULTURE AT THE SERVICE OF THE LIVING, Distinguished Speaker Series with Michael Mason, Director of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage”

An Interview with Tia Dorsey, ARAD’s new Social Coordinator

Headshot (Dorsey)

Atiya Dorsey graduated from the Heavener School of Business at the University of Florida in 2017. She holds a B.S. in Business Administration (Marketing) with minors in Dance and Entrepreneurship. As an African American curator and photographer, Atiya’s work examines the lens through which we view black bodies in the artsespecially within dance and film. More specifically, she strives to create strong, visual images through black & white photography in order to address pertinent issues that are plaguing Black communities such as gentrification and displacement. Atiya looks forward to continuing this work in Washington, DC after graduating from Teachers College.  Continue reading “An Interview with Tia Dorsey, ARAD’s new Social Coordinator”

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

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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!