The Silent Struggle of Immigration

There is no greater advantage in life than being born in America.

I often find myself daydreaming on how much better/easier my life would currently be if I was born in the United States. How much further I would be. And how many years I’ve been set back due to this one little detail.

What seems like a trivial thing is anything but. Anywhere from getting a job, securing accommodation, finding a partner or building credit becomes an unnecessarily uphill battle.

The number one reason people move to USA is for greater freedom and opportunity. But, depending on where you happen to be born, this dream may remain only that.

The ways you can (legally) get into America are usually:

  • Student visa
  • Work visa
  • Extraordinary ability visa
  • Entrepreneur visa
  • Spouse visa

Each visa has its own set of hurdles.
The student visa requires you to move back to your country of origin after you are done with studies.
The work visa has more applicants than visas issued, in a limited application window with only one renewal allowed.
The extraordinary ability visa is quite difficult to attain and will not apply to most people.
The entrepreneur visa is also a non-immigrant visa, which means you must move back to your country once you are done with the business.

As a result, most people opt for the spouse visa, where they can marry a U.S. citizen and receive a green card soon after. It makes the most sense, requires the least amount of complexity, and almost guarantees residency with little risk. The only problem is finding someone willing to marry you (typically for a fee) and undertaking a series of interviews with immigration officers to prove your marriage was in “good faith” and not simply a ploy to stay in the country. As the government cracks down on these types of loopholes, however, options for immigrants dwindle even further.

It’s really hard to get in to the country. But millions upon millions of people are willing to make the sacrifice because they realize it is worth every bit of struggle. It’s also why they take full advantage of the opportunities available to them once they’ve finally made it in, working long hours and living in subpar conditions for many years before they ever see the fruit of their labor.

Nevertheless, there are some things that will always be against them:

Educational credentials. They’re basically non-existent. There is something demoralizing about having to go back to school and taking multiple GED exams in order to prove you are educated and qualify for minimum-wage-level jobs, even when you may boast a bachelor or masters degree.

Lack of connections. You have no communal support system for assistance. There are no friends to help you, or neighbors to guide you. You probably don’t have an extended family network, either. In many instances, you’re all alone in a foreign landscape.

Building credit. With a brand new social security number, your file is so thin that it will either not be recognized, or automatically assigned the lowest score possible. And with so little opportunity to build history as an adult, you will face many years of little-to-no credit until you can slowly increase your score with secured credit cards and routine credit increases.

Securing housing. Even with some cash in your pocket, you won’t be able to get a place unless you provide a great deal of documentation which you simply may not have. It could be a drivers license, good credit score, employment history, utility bills or references, so you may be relegated to motels until you can get it together.

Government jobs. Forget about running for president (you cannot be foreign born). Military? Hopefully you become a legal resident while you are still young, because there is typically a cut-off age. Congress? You need to be a U.S. citizen for at least 7 years. Police? U.S. citizens only. Sorry permanent residents/green-card holders.

There are many more miscellaneous struggles immigrants face, such as opening a bank account, making new friends, etc. but each case is unique and complex in its own way.

Overall, I would estimate moving to another country sets you back ~10 years. It’s a necessary pain to endure, but one immigrants must overcome. For this reason, I have the utmost respect and empathy for immigrants. They are the truest patriots. They are the hardest workers.

They are the American dream.