Adriana is originally from Australia and is currently living in NYC working as performer & a fierce Pilates instructor. She also happens to be one of my best friends. Here she chats about the process of getting her O1 Visa and some tips for anyone in the same situation. Find her on Instagram @adrianapannuzzo.
What was the process like on how you got your visa?
When I arrived in New York, I first went to college at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy with a F1 visa. This was for international students who were attending college with no work unless it was in school. After I completed the conservatory I went on to an OPT visa, which is a working visa for 1 year. This was for you to work in the Musical Theatre industry and prove to the American Embassy you were an extraordinary talent to be able to apply for an O1 visa. During the year of OPT all the media you have completed throughout your life while be filed for you to apply. There are a lot more details, but going through a lawyer helped me address what I needed.
How did you go about finding a lawyer?
During my time at AMDA, we had an international advisor who engaged a lawyer to meet with us. They gave us a run-down of the visa process and what was to be completed. I had many friends who already went through this process so I took matters into my own hands and did some research on all the immigration lawyers in New York City. I knew all the lawyers would have different prices, but when I spoke to them individually I found the best one for me, who worked the same way I did. I had full confidence in them and knew I was in good hands. Every lawyer has the same process with the way they file each case, but I chose this lawyer because she made me feel calm and was 100 steps ahead ready to go. That was the kind of person I knew I wanted to represent my case.
What are some tips you would give to someone in a similar situation?
In general, with anyone studying Musical Theatre or wanting to apply for their O1 visa, I would definitely recommend to go to every audition you can, in order to get your name out there. People behind the table will remember you this way and start inviting you to auditions. Many auditions are already casted from lists of people they love working with. Being a good person at all times and showing up to work will take you very far. The way to get your visa is to get work. More often than not, that’s going to take showing up at 5am to sign up for auditions. This will get in you in the door for many things. You never know what could happen, work hard and be patient.
How did you manage your stress levels during this time?
Stress during the year of OPT, while filling for my O1 Visa was hell. I was in constant fear of not doing enough to apply, while trying to maintain balance so I could stay healthy. I got sick several times that year. However, having a great support system definitely helped me through. They constantly cheered me on, and I started to see my hard work pay off. I made sure to make time for myself. Like pamper time with my nails or just doing a face mask to unwind. Dance classes with choreographers such as Al Blackstone were also my therapy during this time. I worked on getting my head out of what was expected and started doing it for me. I would also say that just talking about my stress with a friend or my family was so great. It let others know what was going on, and they would continue to check on me to make sure I was okay. I never let it get the best of me, and that made me a lot stronger in the end.
What did you do to celebrate when you got your visa?
When I received the email from my lawyer stating that I was approved, I automatically rang everyone in my phone book to scream and cry while also pinching myself because it still hadn’t sunk in. In that moment I planned a dinner with my Aussie gals and then a night out with my friends to celebrate. I was over the moon and all I wanted to do was boogie and celebrate with my closest friends.
What is the first thing you’re going to do once we’re out of quarantine?
Have a nice dinner with all my friends. I want to be surrounded by the ones I love with food of course. I’m also going to take an eternity of dance classes because I miss the energy and that feeling so damn much.