How to Stay in LA Longer Than 90 Days

Sixth and Main In the two months and then some weeks that I have lived in Los Angeles now I have met about three people that are actually from LA. As in born and raised. Most people are from elsewhere, looking for something more here in LaLaland. The majority is just from out of state; Kansas, Ohio, Illinois…And then there’s a handfull of people from out of the country. And each and every one of them I ask: what visa are you on? How did you get your work visa? And the answers are always shocking…

Before they even answer they always tell me: just marry someone. The first two times I heard that I laughed until I noticed they were not laughing with me, and told me they meant it. Seriously. With my perfect BF and occasional integrity I always tell them I could never do that, but then they continue their stories…

The average amount of years that these people tell me it took them to get a green card is about eight. Some it took nine, some ten…but usually it’s eight. These people have all gone through eight years of studying, internships, getting new visa’s, changes of status…The whole visa drama. The expensive, expensive visa drama.

So when person number seven told me his visa story, bitterness oozing from him just talking about it, I started to get disheartened. Maybe marriage really is the only option, and that would mean there is no option.

If I don’t find a new visa before February, I will have to return to Amsterdam. And despite how much I miss home, Dutch products like digestive cookies with dark chocolate and my Dutch lovelies, that’s not something I look forward to. Because I’m just starting to build something for myself here.

So now I’m just focussing on how I’m able to at least stay in the U.S. longer than until February, before I win the Green Card Lottery of 2013 of course. I already discussed the O and B visas, so here are other options I know of that allow you to stay in the U.S. beyond the tourist maximum of 90 days.

    1. F1 student visa: this is what I am currently on, but it’s expensive and I probably won’t be able to do another semester. The thing is that you have to be enrolled in a minimum of 12 units at all times, which can be a lot of tuition. It wouldn’t be so bad if you were allowed to work as well,  but unfortunately you’re only allowed to work on campus. And campus jobs are highly competitive and have a low salary.
    2. Trainee or intern visa: with this visa you can do an internship or traineeship in the US. Sometimes these are paid but in LA the chances of that are fairly small, depending on what business you’re in of course. The difficult thing about this visa is that the company you’re interning for has to prove that you can not do a similar internship in your own country.
    3. A work visa! Still not a green card, which means that as soon as you’re not working full-time anymore you have to leave Americaland. But the most affordable way of staying in the US for sure because you can actually make some money! Unfortunately to get this visa the company has to prove that an American can’t do your job and has to sponsor your visa. And you’ll have no time to go to auditions of course!
    4. Au-pair visa: This might be the easiest and most affordable way to stay in the US longer than 90 days since room and boarding are usually included. But again there will be little time left to go on auditions. And the maximum amount of time you can usually stay with this visa is a year.

So what to do? I’m afraid at the moment I don’t have the answers either. The student visa is an ideal option but you’ll need at least $25000 to study full-time one year. So go get that sugar daddy and marry him!

Oh, wait, then you might as well…

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14 Comments

Filed under Los Angeles

14 responses to “How to Stay in LA Longer Than 90 Days

  1. Just felt my throat dry up.

  2. Carlijn

    Wat een drama zeg die hele aanvraag! Nog heel veel succes ermee!

  3. Ohhh, I exactly know how you are feeling, went through this drama too. However the people didn’t probably tell you, that even after marrying someone, you aren’t eligible to work for 2 years, your spouse has to prove that he can provide for you for the whole time, after that you get the permission (correct me if I’m wrong) and the green card procedure is quite tough – have you seen The Proposal with Sandra Bullock? They were mocking the system, but it actually is quite like that.

    When I figured out, that marrying someone is probably the only way, I was so disappointed and decided to leave and start in UK. To get a proper training at drama school and in couple of years perhaps get that recommendations from tutors and come back there again. Because that’s what I see how it works here in UK, a lot of British actors are getting recommendations for being ‘special’ from their tutors. I just talked to a tutor in the Actors Centre and she told me how hard it is and that even this recommendations don’t guarantee getting the working visa, but it’s one way of doing it, without going for the extreme. Plus that now is probably the worst time ever, visa-vice, that it wasn’t that tough years ago. We can really pick a time, can’t we? Lol

    I was on the aupair visa and however it was the only way I could afford to stay, because of the 45hr/wk work commitment it only allowed me to take classes and go to networking events – that’s one tip I can give you, go out as much as you can, meet people and maintain contacts. But be careful, don’t go to just every event you hear about – there is an urban legend going around the town, that people get ‘discovered’ at parties. The opposite is true, it’s just waste of time and money. However there are quite a few normal events, look them up. Use twitter to not only promote your blog, but to engage in conversations with other L.A. people and get to know about these events that are happening. On my blog in the link section there I linked couple of great blogs from not only american actors – great way to learn from them how it works and perhaps get in touch with them. There is an event going on each month – LA Actors Tweet Up, if you don’t know about it already, worth going. You never know who are you gonna meet.

    You are doing so great, though. You are really strong and a fighter – that will get you far, I’m sure you will find a way to go after your dream, without having to sell your soul to the system and marrying somebody just for the visa. What is meant to happen, will happen and everything is an invaluable experience, isn’t it?

    • Hi Lenka , thanks for your lengthy insights about your own experiences! it’s really useful and exactly what I wanna get going here. If I have to leave the US in the near future I wil probably join you in London. At least there is some work out there!

      • Oh, that would be fab! I mean, I wish you to manage to stay in L.A., but from European locations, London makes the most sense, it’s like the NYC&L.A. of Europe – plus we don’t need any visa or work permissions to stay here! Yay. Haha

  4. Hannah

    Can you get a work visa from your acting agency perhaps?

  5. Sarita

    Hi there, I just wanted to clarify that after marrying you do NOT need to wait for your working visa for 2 years. That is ridiculous. I married my husband (for love, just clarifying…) and I got my papers within a month, so I don’t know where that info is coming from. And no, this wasn’t years ago, just a few months ago actually. Anyways, just wanted to clarify this and good luck with your acting!!

  6. Marty

    I am from Texas and I can tell you from personal experience in the event of a “wedding” you can start working as soon as you receive your residency (which in Texas takes as low as 2 months). I recommend that you probably apply for a visa or residency anywhere BUT L.A. since it’s such a large metropolitan area, it might take longer for them to get to you. Go somewhere like the size of Austin perhaps… Best of luck!!!

  7. sasha

    Hoi ik heb gister alles gelezen haha duurde wel ff 3 uurtjes :p maar wat mijn vraag dus eigelijk was is :
    Nou kijk als je dus word aangenomen bij een univeristeit/college daar in la en je hebt zoals jou een f1 visum kun je dan als je een agent hebt wel gaan werken als actrice ( stel dat je door de auditie bent gekomen ) ? Dat vraag ik me dus echt af! Verder vind ik je blog echt super!

    Xx

    • Hi! Blij dat iemand eens leest voordat ie vraagt haha! Het is mogelijk dat als je een auditie doet en ze je graag willen ze dan een visum voor je regelen. Dit gebeurt wel eens met buitenlandse acteurs. Maar op een F1-visum kan het dus niet. Je moet echt een ander visum om te werken. Een agent kan hier mogelijk ook bij helpen. Hope you keep enjoying the blog!

  8. Peter

    Er was in het TV programma Grenzeloos Verliefd ook een dame die graag in de VS wilde blijven. Die had zelfs al een Amerikaanse vriend. Een visa op basis van het huwelijk lijkt me de aangewezen route. Anders zal het inderdaad heel erg lastig worden vrees ik. Hoe dan ook veel succes!

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