Relocating to the US as a senior ID manager...

Hello all!

Need your help in an issue I have:

I am an industrial designer, a design manger and strategist with more than 10 years of experience in many business fields (I have both in-house and consultancy experience in a studio environment).
My wife and I are thinking of moving to the US as part of my wife’s plan of undertake a fellowship program there (Part of her training as an MD).We may be able to choose from several locations around the state.
My question for you (Those who know…): What’s the chance of finding a design management position there, as I am not a part of the US design culture and connections?

And if it is relevant, where in the US should we focus our attention at finding a job for me (And my wife’s fellowship…)? The west coast- SF? Seattle? Portland? Perhaps Austin-Huston? NYC/NJ? Chicago…?

Would there be a chance to get a Visa sponsorship from employers, so I could start working, renting a house, buying a car etc. , BEFORE my family actually arrives, so they’ll get a “soft landing”? Has anybody here ever taken this step or had some of the issues I mentioned?

Any help would be welcomed!


It is definetly possible. Larger companies and consulting groups are not as afraid of dealing with visas. I advise looking to global companies and consulting groups. I worked at both frog and nike, both have design offices and Europe and have somewhat frequent exchange of people.

As for location, certain cities have more opportunities. SF probably is the highest concentration of firms. Seattle has opportunities due to Microsoft being there. Portland mainly serves Nike and Intel.

For your wife, a fellowship at the Mayo clinic in Rochester Minnesota would be good for her credentials. Mayo also posts positions for designers/design strategists from time to time as well, and those positions as far as I know focus on patient experience strategy and design.

Lower cost of living, nice place to live (though very cold in the winter), but it is not a major metro area where you can expect to find a large design scene and culture that comes with a big city. Though Minneapolis/St.Paul is only about an hour drive north.

Definitely possible but it isn’t an easy process.
Where are you relocating from? I might have missed it in your post.

Based on my visa struggles and experience, I would say that if you are not getting hired in Europe and then transferred, your visa options are H1B or O visa.
The H1B was the obvious choice as a work visa but this has changed as it is increasingly hard to get. You can only apply once a year (April 1st) and shoudl you get it, allows you to start working 6 months later (Oct 1st).
This year however 3x more candidates applied than the quota allows for, which lead to a lottery without consideration to merit, employment offer or application. I went through this last year where chances where about 50/50 and lost.
That was it, I had to leave my consultancy job in SF and move back to Europe.

Your other bet could be the O, a special merit visa. Also referred to as the “Justin Bieber Visa”, where you will have to demonstrate extraordinary accomplishments within your field. Patents, awards and the like will be necessary.
Given your experience, this might not be a bad bet as long as your firm or company gets a savvy lawyer on board.

There might be other options for you, possibly as a dependent to your wife’s position, but these are the ones I have had up-close and personal dealings with.

Where are you moving from? Are there multinational corporations based in your country that have design offices in the U.S.? For example; Sony, Philips, and most automotive companies that have a market presence in the U.S.

Thanks again for the tips, Guys!

I’m currently a freelance consultant, so most of your comments about company relocation aren’t that relevant.

Greenman- thank for your comment s about Minnesota- will keep that in mind…

bepster- Sorry to hear your ordeal with the Visa. Will definitely look for the “O” type visa, although I heard It’s pretty hard to get one of those.

Any other ideas? suggestions?

I think what sonofscrotum (nice name by the way) meant is that you can try to get a job at one of these companies with offices in a place you are allowed to work and get them to transfer you internally. A friend of mine go hired in California through a similar process, but she had been working for the company in Europe before.

For transfer Visas, as far as I know, one has to be employed with a company for at least 1 year.
Without that an employee can spend up to 6 months out of a year in the US, but needs to leave the states for the other 6 months.

It’s a crazy process that used to be tolerable as long as H1Bs were still obtainable and realistic.
Now, as there is such a surge mostly from the east in the tech sector, H1Bs become a less and less feasible option for companies.
Planning is just impossible when you know the chances of having your recruit start in 6 months are less than 30%.

It sounds like your wife will have a much easier time obtaining a visa?
In that case, I’d really look into having her claim you as a dependent and you could continue freelancing as a consultant.

Generally, I would imagine that your chances of finding a company that is interested and willing to invest time and resources in international applicants are much higher in the coast than in the middle of the country, save Chicago perhaps.
But that is just a hunch.

Thanks for the reality check, bepster!

Will keep that in mind…