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December 6, 2023

Coming Back to America on a Talent Visa: A Product Designer's Story

Mikhail Belstar, a UI/UX product designer, moved to the U.S. on an O-1 talent visa, eventually obtaining an EB-1 visa and a green card. Mikhail shared his relocation experience with Relogate, highlighting how bureaucratic paperwork can be a major hurdle in assembling a visa case.

Why did you choose to move to the United States?

I had been to the US before and even lived and studied there, so I knew what it was like. My mom also lived there for a long time. My friends told me about the O-1 visa when we came here. Moving to the States was a natural evolution for me since all the big IT companies, my friends, and family are here. I also considered the Czech Republic, where there was a design studio I knew. But it was somewhat dull there, as most major IT companies and my friends and family were primarily in the States.

Did you apply on your own or with a lawyer?

I applied with a lawyer who was recommended to me by my friends. At first, when I found out how much I had to do, I was overwhelmed. However, the lawyer told me that I already had a good basis for my case and just needed to collect as much evidence as possible. It became easier once we made a step-by-step plan. But it's not always easy with lawyers. Later, when I applied for my green card, the company's lawyer got everything mixed up. As a result, it took a year to file, and I had to redo everything myself.

How long did the entire process take?

The case preparation took about six months, though I think it could have been done in a couple of months. I had to do additional work: I wrote articles, started blogging, and joined various professional associations. Once all documents were gathered, we applied for expedited review, and in two weeks I got approval. The next day, I started working at Warner Bros.

What were the main challenges in preparing the case?

The hardest part was dealing with the paperwork. I had to gather many documents and translate them into English, find all the mentions of me on the internet – these were all like needles in a haystack. It was challenging because some sites no longer worked, and some posts were deleted. A lot of time was also spent obtaining recommendation letters from clients and employers. 

While gathering documents, I faced pressure from people around me. I heard a lot of things all the way from I am not at the level to be considered an extraordinary specialist to the lawyer just wanted to make money out of me, and, in general, that it was all impossible.

Was it worth it in the end?

100% worth it!  The US is the perfect place for IT professionals. Here, you can find experts from all over the world, in Silicon Valley, where the future is born. And California's mild climate year-round and the American passport that opens doors worldwide are major pluses.

What advice would you give to those applying for a talent visa?

First, you should prepare yourself that it will take a long time and save up for starting a new life. Secondly, learn English in your home country, as it will be easier to find a job and adapt. Also, it's important to choose a lawyer or agency carefully, as it largely determines how the casework will proceed. And of course, believe in yourself and ignore those who say it's not possible.

Learn your chances or book a free consultation with our team to learn more about the EB-1 visa.

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