The headline isn’t really news I suppose. In all aspects of our life, the better prepared you are, the easier (in general) things are to work through and accomplish. Although I was a little disappointed that when I became a new parent a few years ago that there was no instruction booklet. Despite that, I reckon we’ve managed okay.
The same applies for your immigration situation, which generally doesn’t come with an instruction booklet either. As a temporary resident of the United States, working and/or undertaking research in an institution, organization and/or company, it is highly likely that you have been sponsored on some type of temporary visa that allows you to work under specific circumstances. Maybe you were granted a J-1, perhaps you obtained H-1B status, or you are currently studying here on an F-1 and everything seems to be ahead of you, and something to think about in the future.
No matter where you are in your career, or (from what I am about to say) your visa status, it is important to educate yourself in, and prepare for, the next steps in how you will maneuver through the US immigration process. From dealing with scientists, researchers and postdocs for a number of years, it is apparent that as they work through an extremely rigorous career, there are a number of people who feel that immigrating to the United States on a permanent basis is not something they ultimately see themselves doing. Others see it as a goal, but as they immerse themselves in their work, they put it off a little – it’s seen as something to deal with when they’re more established. I would suggest, however, that if you are foreign born and in this country working, training, or researching on a temporary visa, you should prepare for the eventuality that at some point circumstances could change.
Over the past few years, many industries, organizations and other places of employment have had trying times. Jobs and positions that looked secure, and facilitated your visa, have been lost. Funding that may have supported a certain amount of projects disappears. This affects both the institutions and the individuals. While some eventualities may be unavoidable, if you have looked at your possible alternatives you may be better prepared in the event that circumstances change.
The same applies to those who simply may not see their future in this country. As I said, circumstances change. If you are here on an H-1B visa, for example, you are eligible for up to six years of H-1B status. You may feel that after you finish your time in that status you will hop on a plane, boat, or whatever mode of transportation gets you out of here. But what happens in the event that you want to stay. What options do you have? I have met people who have found themselves concentrating on their work, their career, and then suddenly find themselves in this situation, yet they have little or no idea what their options are.
Under employment based immigration, the traditional method of obtaining permanent residence is where an employer ‘sponsors you’ for a Green Card. However, depending on your credentials, you may be eligible for self-sponsorship (under the EB-1A, Extraordinary Ability or EB-2, National Interest Waiver). It is important to be aware and knowledgeable of these issues so that in the event that circumstances dictate you know your options, instead of saying when you consult an attorney that “I didn’t know I could do that!”.
As I get my feet wet with this blogging, I expect that my upcoming entries will focus on these different visa categories and some of the general issues that you need to be aware of surrounding them. In the meantime however, you can visit our website at www.leavyfrank.com where there is initial information surrounding this. I’ll be honest. I don’t know who Whitney M Young, Jr was (Former Civil Rights Leader and Social Reformer, and I googled this quote) but I feel he said it well, when he noted that, “I’d rather be prepared for an opportunity that never comes than have an opportunity come and I am not prepared.”
Contact me at email@example.com or through LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brendan-delaney/14/581/23b