I came to USA in 2010 on H1B visa to live the American dream

I came to USA in 2010 on H1B visa to live the American dream. When I got the offer to join a top semi conductor company in USA, I also had an offer from another top notch company and had the opportunity to live, stay and settle in another very beautiful country. Upon the advice of many senior people I chose to come to USA and build my life here. One of the primary reason my seniors offered that led to the decision of coming to USA was that USA as nation is champion of merit. If you work hard and have the skills then people like you, respect your work and you get everything you deserve. So far in my experience, I realize that the advice was 100% true.

What they missed to inform or what I didn’t realise was the archiac immigration system and how it would affect my life. How I would be living a life waiting, waiting and waiting and not getting a sense of belonging here and living with a constant fear of loosing everything if any problem happens in Visa stamping or extensions.

I remember even the small decisions like buying new furniture or a new car, or house we would think about the visa. We lived under fear that we may have to pack up and leave at a very short notice incase the visa extension gets denied. My cousin, would sometimes teasingly ask to buy the “H1B furnitures” from Ikea.

My wife gave up her career, as per law an H1B spouse can’t work even if she has the same skills just because only person was picked in the H1B lottery. The lottery term itself is derogatory for people who have come to work based on skills that employers want. Anyway, time passed and then came H4 EAD, that gave us a ray of hope. She slowly build her career again after a gap of few years.

Soon we’re blessed with two beautiful kids, bought a beautiful house. We almost gave up the hope of getting a green card and started living life in the moment, just like 1000s of other professionals from India.

And then I was very close to getting my worst fear come true, when I bought my house in 2015. We did the house warming and moved in. Then suddenly I got the news that my dad is very sick and I had travel to India. While I was waiting and praying outside the ICU, I got the news that there is a massive lay off in the organization. I was scared to death, with not even a single mortgage installment paid, my family in USA and I stuck here wishing and praying my dad to get well soon. Being the only son, I couldn’t leave my dad and go help my wife wind up things in USA. I got call from my director saying that unfortunately I am also affected. I was fortunate and thankful to my organization that gave us 4 months to find a job. My dad recovered and I went back to US. To add insult to injury USCIS stopped premium processing right at that time. I couldn’t pick and choose job, so the very first offer I got I had to take it.

Now fast forward few years, I got another very good job. Me and I wife both work for top most company and again started living normally and planing for future, kids growing up and started to going to school, retirement planing, investing for kids education funds, planing to get another house etc etc. All the while not realising that the boat we’re sailing in is broken at the bottom and water is sipping in very fast. As I write this story, I am here again in India since my mother in law was sick and passed away the moment my wife reached to see her. By God’s grace she was able to meet her and get her blessings in the last moment. But now we can’t back to USA on time, because we need to get the visa stamped. Anyone who has gone through the hassles of stamping, would know how stressful it is and you won’t get the interview dates in preference. My kids are already missing their school and don’t know what’s happening. But I am thankful to the employer, and my manager to be with me and be very supportive.

often I would discuss with friends whether to stay here or go back. But hard fact of life is that after you’ve spent the prime years of life at a place, you begin to develop your roots there and you simply don’t have the energy to start all over again at any new place. I just hope everything turns out fine for us and everyone in similar situation.

This is my #H1b story and many folks in the #GCBacklog community can relate with. I am sure many would have experienced even harder times. And if not it’s just waiting to happen. We’ve all lived by the books of law and yet we’re running on a thin ice. While the debate is on to frame a better immigration system, one thing that I find missing in discussion is the pain, agony, fear and utter helpnesss of families living daily life under the fear that everything that they worked so hard for would be gone in any moment and it wouldn’t be due any natural disaster or accident but due to discriminatory laws that penalise people for being born at specific geography. Laws that can be changed if people just open their hearts a little.

Story told by Brikesh Kumar

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