Jeetsu, wife of H1b Visa holder based in Florida wrote this article. As interesting and funny this write-up may sound, but it’s a shocking truth and sad state of thousands of spouses who can’t work in the USA.
A year and a half back, when I revealed to people who I was getting married, one obvious question that I was constantly asked was,
“Who is the guy and what does he do?”
“Well, my man is a financial adviser in Miami, and I would be relocating to Florida after the wedding.”
The United States!
That’s what I usually got as a response. A lot of people envied me for being able to shift my base to the most sought-after place on this earth. The US – The Superpower.
As for me, I was definitely excited about getting married to the man I loved, but moving to the States, not really.
I was to be going on H4 visa (dependent of H1B visa holder), a status that not many people would get excited about. It allows you to legally enter the country and stay here, use the country’s resources, obtain a driver’s license, open bank accounts but does NOT allow you to work!
Ralph, just for your information, I have been a fairly good student, graduated from the top ranking university in the country and worked with one of India’s largest Indian E-Commerce company for 6 years.
I left my job on a managerial level, where I had my own team looking up to me and working on the ethics instilled in them by me. Not being able to work was one of the worst things that could happen to me.
Nevertheless, the love for my husband overpowered the love for my career. I could always find an employer in the US, who would give me the job and sponsor my work visa. My self-confidence was high enough and the Barney Stinson in me said “Challenge Accepted!”
H4 Visa – Life in the USA
So here I am, sitting in Florida, which for the records, is beautiful!
Coming from a place like Delhi, the greenery, the blue sky, the water bodies, the organized government, the smooth traffic, people with the civic sense, all of this was a welcome change.
I am lucky enough to get a wonderful new family, an extremely supportive husband, a beautiful house, a gorgeous city to live in, but jobs? It wasn’t half as easy as I thought.
Finding a job in a country that works opposite to where I come from, with no US education or experience was notably difficult.
How is the US the Opposite?
Well, India – day; US- night;
India – kilometers; US- miles;
India – kilograms; US- pounds;
India- Cricket; US – Baseball;
India- right-hand driving; US – left-hand driving.
The list is long.
Anyways, I took my time settling down to this new place, understanding how things are done, adapting myself to these changes. And then a few months back, I realized that it was now time to pull up my socks and find a job.
One, I desperately wanted to get out of my pajamas and two (most importantly), the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) was going to open their annual window for accepting work visa applications on 1st April till 7th April.
If I am unable to find a sponsor before that, I will have to buy a new stack of pajamas to last me another year of sitting unemployed at home.
While researching on the H1B visa process, I came to realize that all the first time H1B applications submitted during this period, will get a start date for 1st October and not anytime before that. This would mean that even if my petition for the visa gets filed during this window, I cannot legally start working till 1st October.
I not only needed to find an employer who likes me, thinks I am fit for the vacant job profile, is aware of the immigration process, ready to sponsor me but also who willing to wait for another 6 months to have me on board.
Are you freakin’ kidding me!
Wasn’t finding a job alone challenging enough?
But even this didn’t make me give up Ralph. I tried even harder to find a match for me, went for up to 6 interviews in a week, not including the telephonic interviews.
And guess what, I finally succeeded!
I found a job which only met the above criteria but also offered something that excited me.
A job of in my own field, something that I had been doing in the past, something that I am good at and something that I am confident of being successful
Interview and Job Offer
It took me 2 long questionnaires, 4 even longer online tests, 4 personal interviews with 6 different people over the period of 4 weeks to bag it, but all this just gave me a greater satisfaction of triumphantly passing through such a detailed candidate selection process.
Speaks volumes about the company’s professionalism too.
I had such a great time going through all this and finally nailing it just made me pinch myself to realize that it was actually happening to me. The company attorney did the necessary and filed for my visa right on time.
The Shocking Truth
But this wasn’t the end of my woes Ralph. The demand for US work visas is very high. After all, it’s The United States!!
Tens of thousands of people across the world dream of coming here to work.
A lot of them are already in the States like me or the ones who have been studying here and now looking for jobs. But there is also a big chunk of people who are not even in the country…just aspiring to come here, taking their chances by applying for the visa.
As a result of which, USCIS received thousands of petitions more than, available 85,000 work visas that they can issue for the year (out of which 6,800 visas are already reserved for Singapore and Chile applicants)
The government has resorted to the age-old method of a random selection process, better known as the H1B Visa lottery, to decide who all gets the visa this year.
My fate will now be decided by a game of chance.
My career is now dependent on sheer luck now.
Can you believe that Ralph?
What should I be doing now?
Should I sit in a temple all day, praying for good luck? Or should resort to astrological guidance to better my stars? Or should I just sit back and wait for things to happen to me?
USCIS has already conducted the lottery on 10th April, the results of which will be declared to the applicants’ representatives over the next few weeks/ months.
I’m currently undergoing this worst phase of anticipation, where I am absolutely oblivious of what’s going to happen next.
For the first time in life, I feel so helpless of not being able to plan my life ahead.
I do not know if 6 months from now I will be happy waking up in the morning, dressing up to go to work or if I will still be sitting on this swing with a cup of coffee, writing another blog!
In desperate need for a lot of good luck. Please wish me luck Ralph!
H4 EAD Work Authorization
Then came the H4 EAD in 2015 and it gave hope. Light at end of the tunnel.
But, with a break in Career for a few years, it’s difficult to get a job. So, I ended up taking a certificate course. I started getting job interviews from the same companies that denied my application.
Even before I started making progress in my Career, USCIS Plans to Revoke H4 EAD Rule!
Over To You
The reality of being the spouse of H1B visa worker in the USA is shocking and sad. Do you agree?
Are you on H4 Visa? Do you feel the same pain?
What are you doing to keep yourself occupied and motivated?
Share your thoughts in the comments section.