Toronto Art Director seeks job in NYC: What are the costs?
March 21, 2012 9:28 PM   Subscribe

How hard will it be for me to find work in New York City in an Art Direction role with a boutique design firm or major news-media organization? (Looking for a fresh 2012 / Canadian to NYC / Design approach, if possible)

I'm currently working for a major media organization in Toronto, where I am the lead designer / assistant Art Director with a few national and international awards under my belt, and a few major projects, too.

I'd like to move to New York City to explore opportunities

- Want to know how long I can last with 30k in cash?
- What sort of salaries can I expect in the city?
- Will it be easier for me to be in the city to solicit Creative Directors?
- Are companies bent on hiring American? anyone more international?
- Anyone got the best link for visa apps / paperwork?

Me: 28 years old. Male. Cycle and transit more than cab. Likes to eat out, but capable to scaling back and cooking. Fine with living in a borough. Prefer to have my own place. No roommates. No need for parking.
posted by mistertoronto to Work & Money (3 answers total)
Do you have a status with respect to the U.S. that allows you to move or work there? If not, you really need to get a job offer first, get your visa or TN status sorted out, and only then move to the U.S. Foreign nationals can't just move to the U.S. to look for work.

If you want to live in a place that's relatively convenient to the subway, and you don't want a roommate, I wouldn't be surprised if you blew through $30,000 in a year.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:48 PM on March 21, 2012

how long I can last with 30k in cash?

Regardless of cash, without a work visa you are limited to 6 months maximum of "visiting" the US in any twelve month period. This is a fairly generous allowance that is only afforded to Canadians. I'd recommend you keep single trips shorter than 3-4 months max in order to avoid raising undue interest from USCIS.

I don't know enough about your field, but I can tell you that the easiest work visa to get is the TN, which only Canadians (and to a lesser extent, Mexicans) qualify for.

It won't be like moving to Vancouver and then looking for a job; you need to get a job offer and work authorization straightened away first before making a permanent move.
posted by ceribus peribus at 9:59 PM on March 21, 2012

Best answer: Looking further at the list of TN qualifying occupations, I'm not sure that an Art Director position would qualify. The closest I can see on that list is Graphic Designer, and you would have to convince the CBP officer and have supporting documentation that graphic design was the full extent of your position (in order to qualify for that visa).

So, your next option is the H1-B. The good news is, although I can't find an official Specialty Profession list, "Commercial Artists: Designers And Illustrators" shows up on several unofficial lists such as this one.

The bad news is that H1B visas take a minimum of 6 months to acquire. USCIS begins accepting applications on April 1 of each year, and they stop when the annual H1B application cap is reached. Thus, the soonest that a new H1B visa holder can start working in the US is on October 1 of their first year. The regular annual quota is roughly 65,000, and there is an "advanced" quota of roughly 20,000 - mostly reserved for applicants with advanced degrees from US schools. In the event that the quota is not exhausted in April, applications received in May will, if approved, start six months later in November, and so on until the H1B cap is reached for that fiscal year.

Unlike the TN visa, H1B applicants are from around the globe, so it's best to get your application in early. The requirements are far more restrictive though, and it has to be filed by your prospective employer on your behalf. Your employer would retain legal counsel specializing in immigration law to file the petition correctly.

You'll need to move very quickly to secure H1B authorization for this year. Unfortunately back when I did this, it was the sort of thing that was typically discussed with the employer in December, and arranged with their lawyers early the following year. Good luck!
posted by ceribus peribus at 11:14 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

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