[ To Express, To Reflect, To Give Back ]

Jailed by the US Immigration Process

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

Vivek Wadhwa makes a decent argument on TechCrunch Why Silicon Valley Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Returning Home. He is getting a lot of heat for what he is saying, but how you judge his opinion depends on what your experience is.

Though I am not an entrepreneur (yet!), I am a victim of the pathetic US immigration law, practically jailed in the immigration process for over a decade and there are no good reasons to hope we will get green card anytime soon. Of course, what Vivek outlined in the article rings painfully true to me.

Let’s be very clear, most immigration laws are well intended. But the immigration policy decisions, for good or bad, made in the last decade has forced millions like me to stick to same jobs, employers and settle with restricted career paths. While many employers, including mine, are doing everything legally possible to treat professional immigrants with equal opportunities, the reality is we are stuck in the system with too many legal restrictions and no easy way out.

The great nation of migrants

Though owning a house was possible, it was daunting paperwork-wise. Visiting the DMV every couple of years to renew my driving license as an immigrant is an experience I dread. Getting a parole and EAD every couple of years is a financial overhead as well as a legal risk in the event it doesn’t get approved or gets approved late. Let’s not even talk about the necessary evil of facing up the immigration officials after returning from trips abroad. I just suck it up.

These pains force me to contemplate return to India more often than not – forced by the never ending immigration fiasco. There are scores like me who would attest for similar experiences and emotions. From all our vantage points, Vivek’s article is on the dot.

Yet, not many days go by without being thankful for this great country for the opportunities I have had. It’s not just that immigrants are successful in the US, it’s that this is the only country that flourished by capitalizing and absorbing immigrants. Too sad that we might be witnessing the demise of that Great America in our lifetime.