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Group struggles to obtain nonimmigrant visas

Thousands of visas are granted every year to a variety of people hoping to continue their career paths in this country. However, there is a segment of hopeful immigrants who struggle to obtain the specialized nonimmigrant visas that apply to them. This group seeks to pursue their artistic dreams in dance studios throughout the nation, possibly even here in North Carolina.

Dancers who come here to hone their craft are frequently forced to leave the United States after their Visitor Visas expire. The cost and difficulty of obtaining the visa that pertains to their speciality is often a barrier to remaining in this country for any length of time. The documents that enable dancers to seek further training or to teach is the O-1b visa that designates that the holder has an extraordinary skill or ability in the arts or entertainment field that has garnered national or international attention and honor.

The difficulty for these foreign national dancers is meeting the burden of proof that they have achieved the defined acclaim. Additionally, many who have successfully acquired the documents often find that the dance studios that extended a sponsorship opportunity take unfair advantage of the free labor. A recent report from the Department of Homeland Security revealed that of the almost two million nonimmigrant visas granted, a mere 3.6 percent were comprised of the coveted O-1b visas.

It is much easier to obtain an H-1b visa, which also stipulates a legitimate work opportunity; however, a professional dancer often eschews a degree in higher education in order to focus time and energy on their craft. Unfortunately, not having a bachelor's degree is a stumbling block to qualifying for the work visa. As a result of the difficulty in qualifying for the O-1b visa, many who wish to come here on the specialized nonimmigrant visas have to abandon their dreams before they are ready. Residents currently living in North Carolina who seek a change in their current status in order to pursue their own dreams may benefit from obtaining assistance in order to help them meet their goals.

Source: seattleglobalist.com, "Immigrant dancers fighting for U.S. work visas", Kseniya Sovenko, Dec. 19, 2014

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