This article developed out of a presentation prepared for graduate students at the Yale Schools of Art, Music, Sacred Music and Drama. There are many thousands of foreign students in the US studying in the arts and entertainment fields. Many hope to stay to pursue their work.
Most foreign students plan to follow a fairly standard progression of steps towards permanent residence upon graduation. A year of Optional Practical Training (OPT),
followed by an H-1B nonimmigrant work visa, followed by Labor Certification and permanent residence based on an employer-sponsored Immigrant Worker petition. The
reality is that each of these steps can be complicated. For students who plan to work in the arts, whether as performers, musicians, visual artists or technical/creative personnel, the progression of steps is less clear and there may be additional complexities.
This article is a summary of some key points that every international student should know about temporary and permanent visas, with a special emphasis on options for those working in the arts. It is not possible to describe every option in detail, and there are many generalizations presented in the interest of space. However, a clear understanding of the issues (and the right questions to ask!) will help make the process as smooth as possible.
The full-text of this article can be found in the attached PDF.