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Winning the Lottery: How Immigrant Marketers Become American Marketers

Hal Conick

There’s a one-in-three chance at success for foreign marketers who want to chase the American Dream.

Worry set in for Polina Haryacha. She had two marketing degrees from Ukraine—a bachelor’s and a master’s—a marketing certificate from UCLA and a marketing job in America that she loved, but lawyers told her there was a 50-50 chance she’d be forced to leave the U.S.

“I got really sad because I liked the job, and I wanted to stay here,” she says. 

Haryacha’s coin-flip odds to stay stateside came because of the H-1B, a non-immigrant visa that allows foreigners to work in the U.S. for three years. Her attorney, Fiona Brook, received an expansive request for evidence from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that asked why Haryacha’s role as a marketing product manager should be considered a “specialty occupation” that requires “technical or theoretical expertise,” all H-1B requirements. Haryacha’s heart sunk; “It was really bad,” she says, figuring the request meant her chance of staying had dropped. 

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Hal Conick is a freelance writer for the AMA’s magazines and e-newsletters. He can be reached at halconick@gmail.com or on Twitter at @HalConick.