Coming to USA Q's..

I was curious about what a foreigner (Australian) such as myself would need to go through in order to move to the US for about a year or so?

I plan on taking up residence and also working the country.

I’ve looked at sites about Visa’s but its very complicated…
Can anyone make it easy for me?
Jeff Peanut

I think you basically need to get a job BEFORE you arive in America, so you can get a work visa. I’m sure there are other ways, but I think this is the easiest (actuall, a student visa might be easier…but then you’d have to actually go to school, which costs money, as oppossed to have a job, which earns money.)

Moved to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

Also, if you come here as a student you not only have to be enrolled in school, you also have to show the US government that you have sufficient funds to take care of yourself while you’re in the United States. In my case, i had a letter from my university showing that my school fees were covered by a fellowship, and that i would be paid a stipend that would cover my living expenses.

Also, even if you do go this route, it’s not a very reliable path to employment. The conditions of my F1 visa basically state that i’m only allowed to work on campus at the university that i attend. There are some exceptions to this, such as Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT), but there are fairly narrow limits to the type of work you can do (it must be directly related to your field of study), and you generally have to be in the US for a full academic year before you qualify for either of them.

As bouv says, your best bet is to get someone to agree to hire you, and to sponsor you to come over here. Of course, if you were just hoping to do the sort of work that backpackers generally do—bar work, temp work, etc.—it will probably be a bit difficult to get anyone to take the time and effort required to sponsor you. Do you have a trade? A profession? Because some types of workers are in greater demand than others.

There are only 2 ways (aside from, I should think, marrying an American) to get a work visa in the US: you study here on a student visa and get about a year after that to work here, and/or find an employer who has to maintain that you’re doing specialized work that an American couldn’t do (in the latter case I think there a re a lot of research labs outright lying about not being able to find Americans so that they can hire skilled people from Eastern Europe and China for peanuts).

If you see any backpackers working in bars or doing “temp work” (I should think not office work) then they’re working illegally under the table and may have be overstaying their visas. That’s a bad idea at any time, but in the current climate would be a terrible idea.

Does the USA not participate in any of the Working Holidaymakers programs?

Not as far as i know. There seems to be no system like that of countries like Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Canada, etc., where a backpacker or other short-term visitor is allowed to work for a year to fund his or her travels. What i’d be interested to know is whether those countries allow American citizens to participate in such programs; if they do, they shouldn’t, at least not until the US reciprocates.

There is a program that comes under the general terms of NAFTA, whereby Canadians in certain fields can work in the United States for short periods as long as they have employment already set up when they enter the country. This is the TN program, and i assume it applies to similarly-qualified Mexicans also.

As far as i know, im allowed to visit for 90 days with only my passport arent i?
Jeff Peanut

Assuming you are an Australian, you can enter the US with the following things:
[li]a machine readable passport[/li][li]return ticket[/li][li]a street address in the US where you can be contacted[/li][/ul]

You can’t extend your stay beyond 90 days, and you can’t work.

No, they don’t. It would have been a lot easier for me to move to Japan (a participant) if they did.

As a practical matter the address of the first place you plan on staying (hostel, whatever) - even if you don’t end up actually staying there - should be fine. Don’t worry that this is thoroughly checked or anything, you’ll just need to fill out that line on the form you’ll be given on the plane.

But it does have to be a street address eg Waldorf Hotel, 123 Fake St, Funkytown, TX 12345

If you are a University student, you can get a 4 month summer work visa under this program:

I’ve worked in (biological) research labs for the past 18 years and have yet to run across or hear about anyone that fits this description.

Maybe you haven’t, but I used to date a Russian girl here on a visa at a cancer research center which had a few dozen Russians on visas, brought over pretty much as a group, which was a heck of a lot cheaper than hiring Americans and paying market rates. They were just happy to be here for a spell, and unfortunately kept to themselves a lot because the center seemed to be pretty happy with them semi-islolated and fairly low paid for what they were doing.

My mother was also a secretary for a Chinese-American biochem reseracher who brought over Chinese women (it was all women!) who came pretty cheaply and were similarly socially isolated, with limited English and cultural skills.

Finally, a good friend of mine is a viralogist from the UK working on her green card; most of the people in her lab, however, are Eastern Europeans on shorter-term visas. I was at a party with them last Friday night. Only a very small % of the researchers in any of the labs at her facility are Americans.

Well, wait a minute. Are these graduate students? Because they were never paid well, whatever country they were from. Post-docs at academic institiutions don’t pull down big bucks either, and never have.

If there was a widespread trend in my industry of eager well qualified American researchers unable to get jobs because of low paid competition brought to this country from overseas I am pretty sure I would have heard about it by now. Suffice it to say I haven’t…virtually all of my friends who were laid off two years ago have found similar or better jobs, and I know my company is starting to have trouble finding qualified people to fill some research positions, and it isn’t because they are offering starvation wages (they aren’t), there just aren’t enough interested qualified bodies out there.

Foreign born scientists almost certainly do make up a larger percentage of researchers in biology and I think in science generally than they do the US population but this isn’t because they are willing to work for lower wages…it is just that Americans don’t go to graduate school in the sciences at as high a rate. This has been a trend for a number of years, though.

Some of the folks in my last example were grad students and perhaps don’t belong in the same category. Some of them I’m not so sure about.

The first two examples? I know none of these people were in school/doing post-doc work. In the Russian example the institution isn’t even attached to a school, it’s an independent cancer research center.

This link covers some of that territory. I think the type of visa being discussed is the sort these folks have been on; not grad students and not in line for green cards.

Ahh, I am familiar with the discussions attached to the H1-B Visa. I can believe that a private biological research institution (maybe not well funded?) that was trying to keep costs down might try this route to keep salaries down. But again it doesn’t seem to be a widespread phenomenon in biology, so I think the “lots of research labs” in your original post on this topic is probably not supported by the facts. Indeed your linked article implies that biology is one of the fields that is relatively unaffected by the H1-B situation (so far).

I know not much about this, but my old company used to deal with a bunch of Japanese who were over here on J-1 internship visas. That’s about all I have, but you might look into the requirements of that. I know they were getting paid, and I suspect that if they got fulltime jobs they might be allowed to stay.

Of course “lots” is a pretty subjective word. I can tell you that it seems very common around these parts to staff larger research labs this way. We have a concentration of med schools and research facilities, maybe that’s affecting things in some way.

The all-Russian lab I refer to is in fact a non-profit independent cancer resaerch lab, yes.