COMMENT: How I escaped banking in London and got a better job in New York

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Last year, I left London and got a job with a major bank in New York City. Given current events in Europe, I am well aware that a lot of other people would like to do the same.

New York has plenty going for it. London has Brexit; New York has Hudson Yards and the Shed. When you work in banking, the pay is higher in New York City. Most people I know want to work here at least once during their career.

The optimal time to come is when you're young. New York is not a place to raise a family. Therefore you want to work on Wall Street, you need to start planning for it early in your career. You will also need to be a top performer - banks don't move their mediocre people across the Atlantic.

If you're not a U.S. citizen - and if you're reading this you're probably not - you're going to need to move internally. Personally, I first moved here with a major U.S. bank on an L1 intracompany transfer visa. - The bank I worked for seem to have almost blanket approval for L1 transfers for the employees who'd worked there at least a year. The L1 visa would have entitled me to work for that specific bank for five years, after which I would have been compelled to work abroad for a year before I had a chance to return. I wanted to stay in NYC and I wanted to work elsewhere. 

I therefore got a far rarer O-1A visa. These are only awarded to individuals who can demonstrate an extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. If you want to get one you really need to plan ahead. - It takes a lot of justification to get this visa. It helps to have won awards, to have had your name mentioned in publications and to have letters of support from senior people at the bank. With an O-1A visa you can only work in the U.S. for three years - but you have the freedom to switch between banks and it can be a stepping stone to permanent residency and a green card.

Alain Nicollier is a pseudonym

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