Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My first award! And an updated how-to guide on moving to the U.S....


Back from Boulder and apart from the ongoing jet lag, I have only positive things to say about it. I had a great time and the time and money spent getting there was well worth it. I've written a full report on the trip for the Irish Film and Television Network so I won't go into huge detail here.

I do have to say that Boulder is a really friendly place. Everyone I met made me feel so welcome and the festival participants were a fantastic bunch.

I want to particularly thank Moondance festival director Elizabeth English for putting on such a great festival. And obviously for giving me a cool award!

I'll post a link to the IFTN page as soon as they publish the story.

Also, a helpful friend from Texas has filled in some of the blanks from my previous post on moving to the States. Here is a bit more info on each of the essentials:

Car Insurance

Apparently you can definitely get car insurance with a foreign driver's license, from a crowd called "Progressive Insurance". Their toll-free number in the States is 1 800 7764737 and more information can be found here:http://www.progressive.com/progressive-insurance/progressive-overview.aspx

Housing

I was talking to several Angelenos past and present over the weekend and they suggested the following Los Angeles areas: Silver Lake and West L.A. I will check both of these out.
No matter where I decide to live, I'll probably need one of these:
http://www.theupsstore.com/products/pages/maiandpos.aspx

This is basically a "fake" but totally legitimate address. The address will appear to be something like this:

Eilis Mernagh
2525 Wilshire Blvd.
Suite 1576
Venice Beach, California

2525 Wilshire Blvd in this case would be the street address of a store and 1576 would be the number of a little rented mailbox. This is great because the store will accept packages from UPS, FedEX, etc, they will forward your mail anywhere, and text you when your packages have arrived. It's also an image thing: you can be living in your car or in some dodgy apartment somewhere, but your official address is Wilshire Blvd. And even if you move from one crappy apartment to another, your address won't change!

I'm advised that the US post office has a similar service involving a P.O. Box, but they won't accept packages from non-U.S. postal service package delivery companies which is a bit of a nightmare. The address in this case would look like this:

Eilis Mernagh
P.O. Box 541006
Venice Beach, California

Visa

On the visa dilemma, I've had opinions from several U.S.-based friends at this stage and I'm taking their advice. Which is basically: unless you can get an agent before January and unless that agent can line up some work for you, get the tourist visa. I have to agree - paying six grand for a visa when I have neither job nor agent would be insane.

Even better, I'm told that you can extend the duration of your 3-month tourist visa while you are in the States (as opposed to renewing your visa, which means leaving the country). All you need is a good reason, such as attending a film festival. To do this, use form I-539.

See here:

http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=94d12c1a6855d010VgnVCM10000048f3d6a1RCRD
http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Resources/C1en.pdf
http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/m-752.pdf

Miscellaneous

Lastly, and this seems like a no-brainer to me (yet I had to be told!), make sure to use the U.S. version of Google as opposed to the Irish one when you are doing searches. This will bring up results more suited to living in the States.

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