I got married 5 years ago. My In-laws thought I cheated them.
I’m spending every day, thinking, why did I come to the USA. I’m questioning my decision to study in the USA. I wish to stay anonymous, but I’m real as it gets (& the image on the picture above is not us).
H1B Visa is holding me, my wife and my life as a hostage. And here’s our story.
The company I work for is in a small town where. The same town does not offer much of job opportunities for my wife who is from a computer science background.
I’m a Mechanical Engineer and in our field, no company decides to sponsor green card right after you start working for them, especially fresher’s or candidates with very less hands on industrial or shop floor experience.
Employers assess your skills and wait until they are happy with your work. They will not promise to sponsor Green Card on the day you are being hired. There could be companies who do that by weighing in past experience and specialty skills, just that I have never come across amongst my friends circle as well.
Our company has been around for ages (from early 1800’s). They are into Machinery. Machines that crush big rocks.
Rewind Back to 2008
Sit in a time capsule and rewind back to 2008, my parents wanted me to get me married. So under the pretext of higher studies I ran away from horrifying tentacles of getting married at a very young age (23 years of age).
I enrolled in the MS in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, thinking I would place a man on the moon and bring him back!
Luckily not far into the program, I realized, I could not even work for companies that are in to Aerospace Engineering.
Reason? God did not want me to be born as a US Citizen or a did not give an easy way to get Green Card.
If you didn’t get the joke, most jobs in aerospace engineering fields are open to only U.S. Citizens as these jobs require security clearances. Something I am not going to get anytime sooner. One option, a lucrative one, did seem walk and jog in my mind, which I did not pursue.
Debts, Marriage and Day 1 CPT University
I got married to a beautiful woman. I was on F1 OPT and in 2013, my company applied for my H1B Visa. I was not selected in the lottery and I had only 6 months of OPT left.
Meaning, I would be out of status beyond STEM OPT expiration date.
What do I do? I am married and have a dependent, have educational loan, car payments, rent to pay, insurances, credit card repayments, etc. Financial Commitments!
My credit card debt is from flight tickets, changing tires on my car, changing the complete radiator, attorney fees for my wife’s H4 package, flight tickets for my wife for her trip, medical expenses for my mom. It adds up.
All this on a 5-digit salary. Want to know my Salary as a Mechanical Engineer with Masters Degree? Continue Reading.
Upon careful research, I found it was safe to enroll myself in Day 1 CPT College. Between the time of H1B Lottery results and joining the Day 1 CPT university, many in my family thought I was all a hoax!
OPT, H1B Visa & Lottery
Visa is just visa. Visa is just a ticket to stay in a country.
Little does anyone know, U.S. Visa dictates your life and what you can do about it?
My in-laws even wondered if I cheated by telling I was working in USA. Why? Because my visa STEM OPT status would be expiring soon and unless I stay afloat on another visa, I cannot legally work.
Meaning, I would lose my job! No one understood the problems about the H1B Visa Lottery.
No one had heard of lottery system prior to that even though, there was a H1B Visa Random lottery since 2009.
Day 1 CPT College did help me stay afloat, but it ingeniously racked up my debt too.
I got my H1B Visa selected in the lottery and approved in the subsequent year.
Marriage vs Career vs Relationship
I wanted my wife to be independent and not be dependent on my visa. If I am run over by a beer truck, she needs to have a life of her own and bank balance to survive beyond (touch wood). She got her Masters in Computer Science and currently working on OPT and with her H1B Visa approval in hand and still separated.
- My wife and I live in separate cities.
- We meet only on certain weekends.
At first, it was good and now with no clear picture of the future, we are beginning to lose hope.
We are questioning everything. At first, we thought my company would process Green Card and then I can bring my wife on board as a dependent H4 and apply for H4 EAD.
Apparently, ongoing saga between Trump administration, H4 EAD Lawsuit, H4 EAD could be canceled anytime. Although we do see a couple of job openings matching her profile in and around the town, I live, but all require being US Citizens.
Polished way of saying: “We won’t offer sponsorship of transfer sponsored visas”.
How would H4 EAD help? I was going to ask my wife to get H4 EAD, then find a job in any field she likes; not just computers. She could be managing books at a library, or teach finance at the University. She has an MBA in Finance and Masters in Computer Science.
The company she currently works offers zero job security. She is not a contractor. She’s working Full-Time, direct hire position. Unfortunately, she’s in an environment, where employees are fired and hired twice a year.
Mechanical Engineer’s Salary
I get paid peanuts (literally).
I earn a 5-digit salary.
The last four digits are zero and the last digit is a first number above 5 that’s a multiple of 3.
My salary has been stagnant for the past 6 years, even with 8 years of work experience.
I am in no position to ask my wife to leave her career and job to be my dependent. If I look for a new job, my company will slap a legal notice for Non-Competitive agreement.
If I were a US citizen, I could have moved on to some other field or work for federal projects where my skills can be put to use. However, I do not want to leave them either. My plans were to move to our India office.
However, what bothers me is the current visa situation and among other things
- Mounting Debts
- Weekend travel expenses
- Unable to plan for a Family
- This distance between me and my wife
- Our aging parents. No one to look after them
- ROI on housing loans differ for nonimmigrants in certain banks.
I mean, was this all necessary?
Can’t I ask for a salary hike?
Can’t I be happy with single salary?
I work for a company, which sees up and down, with changes in Administration. For last 9 years, we were low. Now we (the company) are picking up. However, a company that helped me with the following:
- RFE in STEM extension
- Applied for H1B visa in 2013
- Applied for H1B in 2014
- Paid partial fees for MBA
- Now agreed to do my Green Card (Green Card Process and Steps)
Then, all the paperwork they offer when I am stuck at the US Embassy for Visa interviews. All the help they offered, I am indebted to.
I just cannot walk up to my management and demand more salary. I just do not have the heart to. Hiring me was an expensive affair at least in my thoughts.
All this is a big Eiffel Tower of problems boils down to one reason – H1B Visa.
It dictates when we can live together.
It dictates when we can think of kids.
It dictates even my rate of interest on educational loans, when I had to borrow money from Discover bank for my MBA.
I had gotten married in December of 2012.It’s agonizing when family talks ill about you.
A Big MISTAKE of Coming to the US
I think, I made the mistake of coming the U.S.
I was thinking like any other student coming here from India – Get a degree, Graduate and immediately find a job to work just like how we do in India.
Just, study and look for a job. Unfortunately, reality is different. Just ask anyone who is studying in the USA!
First, study and get a degree. Look for a job that is your field. Then look for an H1B Visa sponsor.
It’s not like in India.
There’s no Infosys and TCS are waiting to recruit 400 Engineers for Civil, Textile, Mechanical Engineering to work in IT services.
Finding a job as an International student is a humongous struggle.
I’m sure you read the following article:
- 10 Months. 968 Jobs Applied. 704 No Responses. 12 Interviews. 1 Job Offer
Computer science graduates find employers’ at every corner of America.
Getting H1B is a totally different story though. But students from Non-Computer Science field, find it difficult to land jobs. Not to mention the salary in comparison to Computer Science Graduates.
Did I say I make peanuts after a Masters in Mechanical Engineering?
I’m not sugar coating it. This is the reality. Don’t believe me. Just find an International student and ask
How your job search going?
What’s your overall sentiment about working in the USA.
When I look back, It was my decision to come to the USA. Every decision comes with a package of good and the bad. But, I have vested several years of life here and thought things would get better for myself and my wife. I’m stuck in a limbo, unable to decide what’s next for us.
I wish to stay anonymous, but wanted to send my experience to Raghu to post at Happy Schools. I’m sure many others have similar stories.
Once you get H1B Visa, you are tied to work for the same company, for the same job title for many many years.
Potential students are just looking for what’s next and how do I get there. Those, who are looking at the complete road map from F1 to OP to H1B to Green Card, should probably consider other countries, unless Immigration Laws are changed to support High Skilled professionals.
And don’t get me started about potential Green Card wait times!
I encourage others to share your stories about STEM OPT, Job Search, H1B, H4 EAD, Green Card Wait times. When I see kids in India spending fortunes to come to study abroad they see only the Dollar to Rupee conversion. But, the reality is different. H1B Visa decides (no dictates) every move of my life today and it’s not easy to get one.