September 15, 2015 marked 4 years since I moved in San Francisco, and coincidently on the same day, US immigration sent me a notification of RFE (Request for Evidence), which requested additional documents for my O-1 visa application.
This is the second time I’ve received a RFE on my O-1B visa application, and I’ve decided that this will be my last response to them. I’m exhausted from dealing with this for the past 3 years.
The history of my O-1B visa application process
|2012||October||O-1B visa application submitted|
|Claimed the denial|
|October||Refiled and submitted (Second time)|
|2014||The US immigration never responded|
|2015||July||Refiled & submitted (Third time)|
According to USCIS, the definition of O-1B is “individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry.”
artistsfromabroad.org says “An O-1B petition can include only one alien of extraordinary ability in the arts entering the U.S. to work in his/her area of expertise. “Extraordinary ability” for purposes of the arts means a high level of achievement in the field, substantially above that ordinarily encountered…
I’ve always figured that I was not qualified for this kind of visa since I was just a junior graphic designer with no accomplishments in the design field yet. However, the lawyer I spoke with convinced me to apply because it is said that the “USCIS service centers vary in their interpretation of the extraordinary ability standard as applied to performing artists…”
Sometimes, even a beginner artist could get approved depending on an officer at USCIS.
Unfortunately, I’ve never had that kind of officer so far.
When I moved to San Francisco from Orange County, I was just a junior graphic / web designer, who knew how to use Photoshop. Over the last three years, I’ve since served as a Web Designer & Developer, UI/UX Designer, Art Director, and Lead Designer at startup, taking my design career to the next level. If my lawyer hadn’t persuaded me to apply to the O-1B visa, this would never have happened.
The problem is my design career isn’t focused on one particular field, which gives the USCIS a weaker impression on my application. They prefer to see a career path that specializes in one specific field; however because I’m a product designer, I’m required to handle all aspects of creative design, including UX, UI, visual, interaction, branding, and user research. This makes it difficult to build a strong case for my visa application. And although I’ve been approached by several large companies such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Airbnb, my visa status has held me back from actually working for them.
As a final attempt, I would greatly appreciate any letters of recommendation from experts in the design field to vouch for my expertise and knowledge of the design industry.
Life is hard.