Hi, it’s been a while. I don’t bother writing on my own blog unless I get a lot of emails on the same topic - even then I try to keep that to the artsy blog. No real reason, I just work better in that flow.
I try to imagine this blog as being closer to “we’re sitting over beers.” - sometime that can be hard to re-produce. So, I am definitely not a lawyer. However, I have talked to them a lot around this. So consider this the shape, but not the implementation.
A few friends have now started looking at some of the US VISA process I’ve been through and are asking “what are the pieces of this, how do they fit together?”
So, let’s talk about where I’m at. I’ve had 2 H-1B VISAs, I was recently granted an EB-1 and that moves me to an O1. This makes a green card feasible, and Danger can come live with me in the US.
Green Card - The “I can live in America and it should be fine” point, effectively the end-goal of the immigration process for most people. You can have dependents who can work, and have effective permanent residence. You can eventually become a citizenship at this level.
H1B - The H1B is the lottery to get a VISA. I failed it the first time, and then got it the second time. This is the “it could happen” VISA, it is the cheapest in time and money. So it tends to be the first thing you try to do. If you fail it, then you can’t go and re-apply. There are 65k given once per year. The current US president is not a fan of these BTW.
Worthwhile notes for the H1B: you cannot bring spouses in to work, this was changing but I’m not optimistic at all for the future there. They would need to be in education or not working, I believe.
EB-1 - The “alien of extraordinary abilities” application. This is the one where you say that you are a leader in your field, provide references across a broad range of companies and nationalities that say “yep, this person has made an impact on the industry”. You use this to apply for an O1. This is the paper-work process of the O1.
O-1 - The actual “Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement” VISA. This is the one where you can effectively switch to a green-card at any time.
The H1B process is random. So there’s no useful advice I can give there.
The EB1 and O1 process I can document at least.
Step 1. Have a lawyer.
This process is about Lawyers talking to Lawyers. They need to take whatever you do and make it make sense to lawyers. It doesn’t matter if it’s not how you would describe it, it matters that after discussing it with a smart lawyer, that they feel like they can turn that into something that makes sense to someone in a completely different industry.
First up you’ll need to figure out how to sell yourself. You need to explain how you make waves in an industry.
Here’s my original write-up to describe to our lawyers who I am, and what I’ve done. They need as much context, as directly as possible. They do not have the ability to read between the lines, so you really do have to have someone else read it who isn’t in the industry or watched silicon valley) to help tell you “you assumed knowledge of X”.
From there you need to start thinking about references. I would consider the following as important:
Both should play into it, you want to be able to let your lawyers say “this person knows what they are talknig about” in the process. I’d recommend working heavily with your lawyer to figure out what these reference letters work like before actually sending them.
Here is an example letter that I sent to Peter Steinberger, Founder and CEO of PSPDF GmbH in Vienna:
February 1, 2016
U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services
Re: The extraordinary ability of Orta Therox
Dear Sir or Madam: This letter is written in support of Mr Orta Therox’s EB-11 immigration petition as an immigrant worker of extraordinary ability in the field of iOS app development. In 2011, I became the founder and Chief Executive Officer of PSPDFKit GmbH, a company based in Vienna, Austria which is the leading framework for displaying and annotating PDFs in iOS applications and provides solutions for enterprises such as Apple, Adobe, Lufthansa, Dropbox, Disney, Roche and the U.S. Library of Congress. I have worked as a Senior iOS Developer for Scribd, and as a Freelancer for various high-profile iOS projects such as Planet3, Inside3 and 3MobileTV (Hutchinson Drei Austria). In addition, I have worked as a Software Engineer for LOYTEC Electronics GmbH.
I am familiar with the important work of Mr THEROX as a result of attending various conferences for iOS professionals. In 2013, for example, we were both leading speakers at NSSpain, the world’s top conference for iOS/OSX Developers held in Logrono, Spain.
Mr THEROX is unquestionably an iOS app developer of extraordinary ability. He has performed critical roles with distinguished organizations such as Artsy where he is Head of Mobile and leads a world renowned iOS development team. The Artsy app makes the world’s art accessible through a comprehensive online database of contemporary and historical art. Mr THEROX runs a mobile team of five people, creating innovative apps with hundreds of thousands of downloads and an average 5-star rating. Since 2013, he has also served as Design Dictator for CocoaPods where he operates as Design Lead and Web Programmer.
Mr THEROX has made significant original contributions to the Open Source Community and the culture of building iOS apps. Open Source software is software whose source code is available for modification or enhancement by computer programmers. Most applications are Closed Source and the software is not shared with the public. The idea behind Open Source is that others should be able to read, replicate and understand the source code for an application. Open source projects, products or initiatives are those that embrace and celebrate open , collaborative participation, rapid prototyping, transparency and community development. Mr THEROX has created iOS apps entirely in public, meaning that any outsider can see the entire process from design to implementation, which is extremely valuable for hundreds of thousands of iOS developers. CocoaPods covers both Open Source and Closed Source libraries used by the majority of iOS apps for managing and sharing code.
Mr THEROX’s Artsy iOS app was nominated by the judges for the Webby 2014 Mobile Sites & Apps Best Visual Design- Aesthetic category. The Webby Award is an award for excellence presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and amongst the community is equivalent to the Oscars of the internet. The Aesthetic category is geared toward mobile app experiences where visual design is intended to be beautiful, innovative and emotional, and appeal to the senses.
Mr THEROX’s Artsy iOS app has been written about in renowned publications around the globe. In October 2013, for example, the Guardian U.K. newspaper carried a feature article in which two members of the Mobile Team discuss the Artsy Apple iphone app for iOS 7. In September 2013, Mashable.com, a digital media website, covered the app in an article entitled “Artsy App for iPhone Changes Game for Art Collectors”. Also in September, the CEO of Artsy was interviewed for Bloomberg Television’s Taking Stock, in a five-minute video discussing how Artsy is expanding arts awareness and how iOS is important to the platform.
In March 2015, the website objc.io featured an interview with Mr THEROX and his team about the internal culture within the Artsy Mobile Team. Obj-c.io is an online periodical on technical topics within the iOS developer community. In August 2014, Mr THEROX wrote a technical article for objc.io entitled “Snapshot Testing” about a developer’s testing technique.
It is my opinion that Mr THEROX’s contributions are extraordinary and his accomplishments place him in the very top percentage in the field of iOS development, marking him out as a preeminent member in his field.
If I can provide any further information, please feel free to contact me.
Sincerely, Peter Steinberger
It covers who he is, what he does and why he obviously thinks I’m the best thing since sliced bread. I reached out to people who I’ve had strictly business relationsips with, people I’ve met at conferences - all of whom I have the world of respect for. I tried to make sure that they recieved as few emails as possible to get the process sorted.