Relocating to USA from London

Getting a job with an international company is probably the best option if you want to work in the US. As we are coming up on an election year for Congress people are becoming increasingly hostile towards immigrants because it plays well in certain parts of the country. While this is primarily aimed at Mexicans and other illegals from the south, people are also pissed about the near constant flow of jobs out of the United States and into countries like India.

You might be very qualified and a great designer, but companies these days don’t want the hassle of paperwork and visits from Homeland Security just to get a low level designer in the door. They could just put an advert on Coroflot or Monster and get 5,000 applications from US citizens.

If you do happen to find a company the doesn’t seem to care that you aren’t working legally, be very careful. Companies that are desperate to hire in this market generally have something wrong with them. I quit a company about a year ago that was going broke and burned through the entire local talent pool to the point that no one would work for them. They had to resort to hiring tons of student interns to help them and designers of questionable legal status.

This generally means that they have to pay you in cash to avoid detection and cannot list you as an official employee. As someone else said, this also means that you are not included on their insurance so if there is an accident and your hand gets cut on a saw or machine, they can claim that they don’t know you and kick you out. Not a good position to be in especially since healthcare in the US is extremely expensive for hte uninsured.

Interesting comment from your friend about working hotel service. Sounds perfectly legal to me. You will just need to have your visa transferred to the design career. This requires paperwork and time. However, go for high end hotel. The mid - low end hotel industry here caters to the uneducated native, or to the poor immigrant but only in housekeeping. I can see the high end hotels interested in desk clerks and waiters with an English accent :smiley:

Also, the longer you work in the US, the easier it gets. Eventually you can go for green cards, and even citizenship, if you so desire. Currently I know of two in my design department that are doing that. They’ve been here so long.

You may want to check the legality of doing freelance work here in this situation, also. I’m not sure it would be legal, but it may help. That might allow you to moonlight in a hotel, while you freelance in design firms during the day. Many students freelance in design firms to get their start. Including me. But the way many design firms hire freelancers is illegal. There are ways to do it properly and ways not, most do it illegally. I know personally. I was interviewed once by the government about the practices of two firms I freelanced. But that is a subject for another day.

But I have to say: is it so bad in Europe that you’d want to do that? ID is brutal in the US. So much talent, so few jobs. It always comes down to ‘What do you offer over the next guy or gal?’

Hey fastrader :slight_smile: Thanks for your reply. It sounds pretty appealing doing high-end hotel work part-time, then doing freelance work at a design company for the other part of the week. However, I’m going to have to look into it re. the legalities.

I’m not averse to Europe at all - I love languages and the Mediterranean culture - indeed I worked in Milan for a year as part of my degree! However, I wondered whether it would be a better career move and provide more of the “real” product design work in San Fran rather than in Spain, for example. I’ve started another thread about this (Barcelona), as I was wondering if the kind of Ideo/Frog/Seymour Powell type of ID exists there, or is it mainly furniture?

I guess I’m just stubborn too - I’m not prepared to compromise because something is less than easy!! I want to put my energies into achieving something because I really want to do it, rather than doing something by default…you only get one life, and having studied hard to get here, I’m keen to follow my dreams! :slight_smile:

Just surfin the net and ended up here, havent read the whole thread but maybe this will help you. I’m from Holland and have been working in the States for the past 4.5 years as a product designer for a design agency here. What you need is an H1B visa if you want to work as a designer. Cost vary, but are usually a couple of thousand dollars due to the fact that visa requests are usually taken care of by a lawyer of the company who would like to hire you. He/she submits all required information to the department of Homeland sequrity who are responsible for reviewing and approving the visa requests.
Application process can take up to 7 or 8 months depending if they require more detailed info on your job description/responsibilities etc.
Hope this helps, cheers

Just read the whole thrad: started in the US on a J1 visa which is a student visa and did my thesis in the States after that they hired me and applied for my H1B which I received, so it is possible to get hired as a entry level designer but you will probably need a (immigration) lawyer who is familiar with the requirements for the visa and is able to clearly communicate the value you bring to the company…
Your best bet is to get hired by a global design agency as they are more likely to be familiar with the procedure and have the funding to do this.
Here’s some more info:

With a Masters… and if you are talented… you should hit up the big US corporate offices. They are doing great work internally and hire the best from where ever they need to… arranging for Green Card work etc…

You should not just move though… submit portfolios, make calls and get the interviews… then plan the trip or have them handle it:

Folks like… Samsung, Nike, Microsoft, Nokia, Motorola, HP, Dell, etc…

They, among others, have huge design departments and seek talent from the globe.

Thanks for your responses, Mike and Choad (can I call you that? :slight_smile: ) - sorry it’s taken a while for me to respond - it’s really helpful to get some personal experience advice from people who’ve been there. I’m going to have a look at international companies, who, as you say, probably have an established protocol for hiring foreigners, and this may be a good chance to get into the product design field. I’ll see how it goes! Thanks again for all your advice!