Oracle Scratchpad

July 21, 2009


Filed under: Advertisements,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 9:58 pm BST Jul 21,2009

After I had described the way that I can do on-site, real-time, training in trouble-shooting for a group of DBAs I got a few email messages from American companies asking if I could do something of that sort for them.

The two commonest questions were: did I set a minimum number of days for a contract before I would fly to America, and was I allowed to work when I got there.

In the UK or Western Europe, of course, it’s easy for me to travel somewhere for just one or two days – I’ve done day trips to France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark and several other countries before now when the client has been based close to an airport (or Eurostar train station).

Getting to America takes a bit longer though, so I like to book in for a full week – but I’m prepared to drop that to three days if it’s on the East Coast and four if it’s on the West Coast or if it’s in one of those awkward places that need me to spend several hours waiting in an airport. (Someone recently pointed out to me that I could probably get from London to New York faster than an Oracle consultant could get from Redwood Shores to New York and, to my surprise, they were right – the round-trip flight-time is about 2 hours 30 minutes shorter !)

I have managed to arrange all sorts of variations on this minimum time, though: on one occasion I did a “tour” of the East Coast stopping off for one day at three different places; on another I spent Monday and Tuesday on one site, then flew halfway across America to spend Thursday and Friday at another site before flying home. +++

If I’m working somewhere in the USA, by the way, I always try to get hold of the local Oracle user group to see if they would like to set up an evening event for their members – so I’ve been to quite a lot of pizza-fueled user group sessions in the USA.

As far as being allowed to work is concerned, I have a visa that specifically allows me to do training and consultancy work in the USA. It’s an O-1 visa for “Aliens with Extraordinary Ability”. Ideally you’re supposed to be a Nobel prize winner to get one of these but I didn’t have one of those so I had to use plan B which was to supply documentation in three of eight given categories – and by the time my immigration attorney had finished grilling me for information I think she had collected enough information to allow me to score on all eight.

If you check the list of requirements on the linked page, you’ll see that Numbers 5 (Evidence of original contributions of significance in the field) and 6 (Authorship of scholarly articles) was particularly easy.

When it came to number 7 (Evidence of employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations with a distinguished reputation) I had plenty of choice since I’ve done trouble-shooting for something like 20 companies from the FTSE 100*** – but in the end I went for something even more distinguished (I can’t say who because of the confidentiality requirements).

Number 8 (Evidence that the alien has or will command a high salary) was pretty easy as well – but please remember,  if you ask me how much I charge for coming out to America and think the rates sound a bit high, it’s not my fault, I’m just making sure I meet the requirements of the visa. ;)

*** FTSE 100 – roughly the equivalent of the Fortune 100 in the US. (And I’ve done work for quite a few of those as well – but there’s  lot of overlap between the two groups)

+++ I have taken some fairly mad flights in my time – possibly the most extreme was about 20 years ago when I got on a plane in Singapore on Friday evening, landed in London for a job interview on Saturday morning, and got back on a plane on Saturday evening to land in Singapore on Sunday night. (I did get the job – but I don’t think I’d ever want to do that flight again).


  1. I don’t care how much extraordinary ability you have, we’ll still require a Scottish visa stamped on your passport next time you cross the border and you might find our requirements a little more stringent, or at least unusual ;-)

    (Actually, as yet another Scot living and working in London, perhaps I should keep my head down …)

    Comment by Doug Burns — July 22, 2009 @ 4:40 am BST Jul 22,2009 | Reply

    • Doug,

      I have to admit that I’ve been known to panic at Heathrow airport because I’ve left my passport at home – and then remembered that I’m flying to Scotland.

      And you wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve had a conversation with the cab driver that goes like this:

      Driver: “So, where are you going this time ?”
      Me: “Um… let me check just the tickets.”

      Comment by Jonathan Lewis — July 22, 2009 @ 8:26 am BST Jul 22,2009 | Reply

  2. So you are an ALIEN…

    Now I know why you are so good at Oracle!

    Comment by lascoltodelvenerdi — July 22, 2009 @ 7:18 am BST Jul 22,2009 | Reply

    • The rumour has also been put around that I used to work for MI6, and therefore intercepted the original Russian source for Oracle. (The x$ tables are Russian names, and the v$ are just the English translations created by Larry Ellison for the CIA).

      I have also seen a presentation suggesting that I bear an uncanny resemblance to “Sean of the dead” – and that I must be getting my information from supernatural sources.

      None of these rumours is true.

      The rather more prosaic text on the extremely expensive and stylish piece of paper I got from the US government describes me as a “non-immigrant worker”.

      Comment by Jonathan Lewis — July 22, 2009 @ 11:07 pm BST Jul 22,2009 | Reply

      • All your answer look like a “The Stig fact”: some say that…

        “Sean of the dead”? (or “Shaun of the dead”)

        Because you stolen a Jag or because you always go to the same pub? :lol:

        Quite a nice film!

        Comment by lascoltodelvenerdi — July 23, 2009 @ 1:01 pm BST Jul 23,2009 | Reply

      • I love Top Gear! And Jonathan reminds me of the Oracle version of Jeremy Clarkson with the clever wit!

        Comment by Ben Prusinski — July 23, 2009 @ 3:19 pm BST Jul 23,2009 | Reply

  3. Hello Jonathan,

    Does a similar temporary work visa exist for American IT workers who wish to do short term ad hoc work in Europe? I would love to do some short term RAC and EBS work in the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain. Since I speak fluent Spanish and passable French, could be interesting. I understand that a regular EU work visa is a royal PITA to get for an American but how about a temporary work visa?


    Comment by Ben Prusinski — July 23, 2009 @ 6:01 am BST Jul 23,2009 | Reply

    • Ben,
      I’m sorry, I really have no idea. I just gave a stack of cash to an attorney and asked them to sort it out for me. It’s just not safe to rely on any informal source of information for such things.

      Comment by Jonathan Lewis — July 23, 2009 @ 7:47 pm BST Jul 23,2009 | Reply

  4. The Jonathan Lewis/Jeremy Clarkson connection?!


    Comment by Doug Burns — July 23, 2009 @ 3:24 pm BST Jul 23,2009 | Reply

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