Unless you have gone through it, you have no idea how horrible it feels to have your visa running out. I came to New York over a year and a half ago thinking “it would be a great experience”. I didn’t know I would establish such a life for myself here. I didn’t know it would feel so right and I didn’t know I would want to stay.
The year and a half on my first visa fly by before I knew it. I had managed to find a role I loved in an industry I wanted to be in. I had the support of my job to scope out my options and last year, we met with an attorney to try and figure it out. I thought about going home a lot, but after spending over a year carving out a life for myself, I felt that if I had a chance to stay I would take it.
The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for “anyone who possesses “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.”
When you read the definition of the visa, you’ll realize why I didn’t think I stood much of a chance. I went for it anyway, giving it my best shot. I submitted all the work I had done over the past number of years; projects I had worked on, content I had been sponsored for, events I had spoken at and awards that I had won. All of these things seemed so small at the time but when I was building my portfolio over the course of the past 6 months, I realized how grateful I was to see the hard work finally come to fruition. It paid off. It meant something.
I got the final sign-off from my attorney and submitted everything. I held my breath. I tried to work as hard as I could following the submission to keep my mind off everything while I awaited the verdict. If I didn’t get the visa, I would have to pack up my entire life and leave the country in as little as two weeks. Not one person knew the severity of it, except my parents. I just kept going.
Well, the good news is that I won’t be leaving. The good news is that the hard work paid off. The good news is that I get to continue living my dream here in New York City. I was hesitant about the outcome of my O-1 visa but I did it, and now I am here to stay.
New York is hard, rough and blunt. It’s more than I imagined but different in every way. It gives me magic and mayhem on a daily basis. Its scary, daunting and yet pure bliss. My time at my job, with my friends, and during my play are all often idyllic. I get to meet new people I would’ve never otherwise met. I get to experience new things and be exposed to new challenges. New York has stretched me further than I thought I ever could go and I want it more and more every day. The last two years have been far from easy and the next few won’t be either but I couldn’t imagine a better place to learn the hard way than in New York City.
For every message of support, every post you have liked and every time you shared or engaged in my content, thank you! I feel this journey would feel a lot more lonely if I wasn’t sharing my story with you all. I am on an all-time high right now, feeling better than I’ve felt in two years. I’m only beginning and it already feels so good!