Our Story

Hi there,
I'm Soundarya, founder of unshackled.club.

Honestly, I never dreamt of starting a community to help immigrants get talent visas. It happened because of an insane 2.5-year journey that I went through to get my O-1A visa as a solo founder.

How it all started...

Graduated and joined Salesforce as an Associate Product Manager.
Came across the "O-1" visa for the first time. Got intrigued.
Knew within a year I wanted to quit corporate life forever to become a writer.
Aug 2017
Mar 2020
Mar 2022
Jan 2021
May 2022
Entered U.S. as an F-1 student to pursue master's at Columbia University.
Submitted an application for the O-1B visa as a writer in education.
Got a denial notice in the mail.

The day I got the denial notice was a really difficult one.
I had just spent >$15,000 and a year of my life putting together this application. Not to mention the countless nights I'd spent praying I'd get it.

You should know: I've never wanted something as much as I wanted the O-1 visa at that point in life. If you had asked me to pick between a million dollars or the O-1 visa, I would have chosen the visa, no doubt. The visa meant freedom for me.

But, I didn't get it.
Although, more importantly, didn't stop me.

Landed in Chennai, India to start over.
Launched unshackled.club to help talent visa aspirants.
Published my second book, Unshackled, on the U.S. immigration system.
Dec 2022
Jul 2023
Sep 2023
Jan 2023
Aug 2023
I decided to give up my H-1B, move back to India and build my company from there.
Got my O-1A visa approved as a solo founder within 3 days of applying.

So, even though I didn't set out to build this community, I am incredibly glad I got to. And I've spent the past year and a half putting together resources to lower the barrier for talented immigrants (like you) to get talent visas:

Published the first book that makes learning about immigration actually fun (co-authored with Sameer Khedekar, an immigration lawyer).
Built a community of 400+ talented immigrants empowering each other to get talent visas.
Put together a directory of top immigration lawyers who have helped 100s get talent visas.
Now, if you're just learning about the "O-1A" or "talent visas", don't worry. Just head over here to learn the 101 of talent visas. Thanks for reading and I hope you get your creative freedom soon! ✨

The Team behind Unshackled

Soundarya Balasubramani
Founder & Author of
Disha Brara
Head of Sales,
Bhuvan Shakthi
Sales & Operations Associate,
Bhuvan Shakthi
Sales & Operations Associate,
Mahantesh NG
Arjun Kamath
Community Head,
Arjun Kamath
Community Head, unshackled.club
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