Friday, November 22, 2013

Green card: thanks but no thanks!

If you have been in the USA long enough, you must have heard a great deal about the green card, the last step before applying for the American citizenship, only for those determined enough and not easily put off by long and extenuating procedures to apply for it. You have worked so hard, you made it where other people failed or they just weren't as lucky as you, but finally you are there at the final step of a long process: you are eligible to apply for a green card. A dream that comes true for some who long for this piece of paper that can elevate them immediately to a status of "almost American" compared to the lower status of "legal residents". Finally you can enjoy some real freedom: you can apply for jobs, change jobs, get in and out of the country avoiding that long line of "Non-US residents" at the airport. That's all good and fun! 
And yet, a few people turn this prospect down. The first reaction you get, when you tell people that actually you were in the process of getting a green card and had second thoughts, is 'you must be mad'.
When I still was in the USA, I was told of a German woman who moved in a little village close to ours. Nothing special, if she had come into the country with any type of visa, but within our international group the word spread that she actually got in because she won the green card lottery! The exciting thing, for us all, was that she didn't have to deal with all the paperwork we had to (true, she had to do different and more stuff anyway) but she skipped all those stages where we were. We all wished we were in her shoes, after all it's an opportunity that is given based purely on luck, you don't really have to work or study for it. You must still be eligible, meeting some criteria, but from there on, it is all downhill. When a year had almost passed, we learnt that she had had enough and was going back to Germany. We were speechless: so soon! What made her change her mind?
Similar stories though can be found everywhere on the Internet.
I mentioned before the stories of friends of mine married to American citizens. You'd think the process for them was straightforward but it still took them time, effort and money (yes, there are a lot of fees to pay!). It seems that whoever planned this procedure wanted to discourage people from tying the bond. Anyhow, these couples successfully went through the application process and got the green card. After living for some years in the USA, they moved to their native countries and didn't bother to maintain their green card, in fact you must spend an allotted time per year in the USA, and that's how they lost their green card!! Despite what outsiders may think, they have no regret whatsoever. But whenever they fly back to the States, their families get separated: daddy with kids born in the USA go in one line, mummy and kids born outside of the USA, go in another. I don't know why but this idea freaks me out.
And at last, it was our turn: we got offered a job and the lawyers started the engine. We were rolling with both applications for the H1B visa and the green card. But when everything started sinking in, both of us got cold feet. I still don't know if it was the right thing to do or we threw away the biggest chance of our life. So far though things have been good and we can't complain.

No comments:

Post a Comment