Name: Zjantelle Cammisa Markel
Occupation: Immigration Attorney
Visa type: Permanent Resident
What city are you from in Australia?
Adelaide (lower your eyebrows, unscrew your nose….its a great place!)
Where are you living?
What are you currently working on?
Helping people that want to live and work in the U.S. get visas and green cards. Making dreams come true
Where do you dwell when in the U.S.?
In my apartment in TriBeCa with my hubby and three gorgeous kids.
What’s your story on getting to the U.S.?
Well. I was doing my six-month “round the world” trip, as Aussies do. I met a guy from New York in Mykonos, Greece. He gave me his details and told me to contact him when I got to the New York part of the trip. I did that a year later, and we spent July 4th weekend together in L.A. There was some back and forth (London-NY), and six months later I moved over and moved in. I went to see an immigration lawyer about a visa, they gave me a job, job sucked, I left.
Then, in pursuit of my “new career,” I met the general manager of a soon-to-be-opened (and now famous) hotel in the Meatpacking District. He said he needed to get visas for three hotel managers, and could I do it? I said, “Sure.” That client referred another, who referred another, who referred another… and next thing I knew, I had a firm of my own, getting visas and green cards for Aussies and other foreign nationals or aliens, as they are referred to in immigration speak. I married the guy, had a daughter, followed by twin boys, and that six-month trip is already a 13-year story of an NYC adventure, business, family and home.
Why did you want to work in the U.S.?
My job is all about helping people who want to live and work in New York (and the rest of the U.S.) Sometimes, people come in and they say, “Oh, I only want to be here for 18 months.” I respond with, “Sure. I’ll see you in 18 months when you’re begging me to help you stay.”
What are your creative inspirations?
Music and art.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
An office in Australia — in addition to the office here in downtown Manhattan — still helping Aussies with their E-3s and other visas and green cards
When you’re not working what can you be found doing?
Going out to dinner; drinking wine; or at a live music show — most recently, Bob Dylan at Terminal 5, and just prior to that, Roger Waters doing “The Wall” album at Madison Square Garden.
Favourite quote to live by?
I have a few (don’t ask me to quote whose they are):
“Determination defies defeat.”
“If you don’t give it a go, you’ll never know” – that might even be my own.
“If you want it bad enough, you can make it happen.”
“Enjoy your photos today and never say, ‘Oh, I look so old,’ because in 10 years time you will look back on these and say, ‘Look how young I was!’ –so, appreciate how young you are and look now!”
Are you a dancer?
Does a bear shit in the woods?
What bottle of wine can be often found in your cellar?
Turley Old Vines, Penfolds Grange, an Italian Barolo, a Sauvignon Blanc, Rockford Basket Press Shiraz and Alicante Rose in the summer.
What did you want to be when you were 13?
What was your best skill growing up?
I was a Drama Queen. Makes for being a great advocate and lawyer today.
Favourite city in the U.S.?
Um, Geez, that’s a tough one — not. New York! Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of cool places — L.A., San Franciso, Napa Valley, Sonoma, Aspen, New Orleans — but New York is in its own league. It gets under your skin. The longer you’re here, the longer you want to stay—it’s addictive!
What are two Must Dos before leaving the U.S.?
1.Come see me so I can strategize your return, and 2. Eat a bagel with whitefish salad.
What’s the best coffee in the U.S.?
Right now, I’m in love with Zibetto’s (on Fulton Street), but Toby’s Estate (Aussie owned) is soon to open here — I’m excited. If I’m in SoHo, I have to grab a coffee at Ruby’s.
Favourite bar and cocktail of choice in the U.S.?
Milk and Honey and their sister bar, Little Branch, both in NYC – everything they make is awesome.
Favourite art gallery in U.S.?
Love Christies and Phillips auctions for contemporary art. Currently, I have a Damian Hirst, TMNK and Shepard Fairey on my walls in my office.
What’s your favourite hotel in the U.S.?
My clients’ hotels are all pretty cool: the Gansevoort (NYC), Gramercy Park Hotel (NYC), Mercer Hotel (NYC) and Auberge du Soleil (Nappa Valley).
What do you miss most about home?
My family and friends, the coffee, the beaches and the laid-back vibe.
What are three things any traveler must do when visiting Australia?
Visit the wineries, Noosa and Great Ocean Road.
What’s your favourite art gallery in Australia?
Greenaway Art Gallery in Adelaide on Rundle Road.
And what’s your favourite bar and restaurant in your home city?
The Apothecary 1878 Wine Bar and Restaurant and Ying Chow for Chinese food – you need to order the drunken chicken a day in advance.
What’s the greatest Australian landmark, in your eyes?
The Life of a Lawyer in New York
What are your favourite parts of your job?
My clients. I’m meeting awesome people like you every day! I’m in an area of law where my clients are really appreciative of my work. It’s happy work helping people make their dreams come true. We have a great team in our office; we have fun even though our work is serious. We know how to make clients feel comfortable even though immigration can be a scary process — I love that we can do that. I love my job!
What’s a typical day in the life of your job?
Meet with clients and strategize on what visa is best for them, develop a time line and course of action. Work on visas, review other staff work, reply to emails and talk to clients on the phone.
What’s the coolest case you’ve ever worked on?
My favourite cases are when someone comes in and they say they went to another lawyer who said there was no solution for them. I love developing the solution, executing it and then seeing the smile on their faces. Smiles (and hugs and the occasional bottle of Moet) are my reward.
What motivates you to get up and go for it!?
Seeing my clients’ happy faces when we get them their visas/green cards, and hearing the excitement and gratitude in their voices
Design, Business et al:
Urban Boulder – for making Australian Opals cool to wear.
Nick Mathers, Nick Hatsatouris, Lincoln Pilcher – for their success with Ruby’s Café and The Kingswood in NYC, Everleigh in L.A. and Rugby in D.C.
Samuel Jackson – the pie cart guy, not the actor – for his awesome pie cart business in Boston.
Carl Barron – he had Bleeker Street Theater pissing its pants when he was here in New York.
Sadlerstone Tile (concrete sheet tile from Melbourne) – for scoring clients like Armani, Chanel and Dallas Stadium, and just for kicking **&^% since they have entered the U.S. market.
Pete Maiden – for doing this….so cool …so proud.. [Billabout Blushing]
Zjantelle’s Slice of Advice
What do you recommend keeping in mind when moving to U.S.?
You always stay longer than you initially intended.
What’s your travel advice for the flight across the pacific?
It used to be a glass of red followed by a Baileys on the rocks – puts you soundly to sleep for the flight — but now it’s:
Travel light and don’t ever complain about how tough and long the trip is between Australia and the rest of the world. It could always be harder. Just think, you could be traveling with seven-month-old twins and a two- and-a-half-year-old. OK, have that image? Right, you’ll never complain again.