It was just like Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.
Except that, instead of Godot, it was the Green Card, for me.
I should honestly say, the “real” wait was four USCIS years thanks to a mess up that occurred in July 2007. I devoted the other four years of my life trying to find out how I could survive the paper maze to get a Green Card. I managed to get ahead of the queue slightly faster as I was in the EB2 category.
It has been an agonizing eight-year wait but so many Americans helped me out. Like my professor at Arizona State University who recommended me for an internship, a non-profit CEO who convinced her board that there was some value in hiring me. And, a former boss who was generous enough to offset some costs of my journey towards permanent residence.
Along the way, I had the opportunity to work with almost half-a-dozen immigration lawyers. One bluntly told me that it was better for me to pack up and return to India, another filed my papers eventhough I never had the opportunity to see the lawyer, while yet another closed her office. A couple of them were really helpful and understood the meaning of empathy. I survived the bureaucracy, the legalese and the wait.
Over the last eight years, the infamous USCIS “receipt notices,” began in paper and ended in email. However, the processing times remained the same. Along the way, Web sites like Murthy, Immigration Voice, and Trackitt assembled paranoid Indians at one central place.
In the race to the final days of getting my Green Card, my paranoia got me on an hourly basis. Finally, when I got it, honestly, I didn’t feel like celebrating. The wait, the tension, the paranoia had worn me over. During the last few years, preparing for my green card papers had already made me a few years older!
The greatest relief? I do not need to carry around a cupboard full of immigration documents. Nor do I need to pay the government any more money to “parole” me back into the U.S.
My advice for those waiting? Your time will come and I’d urge you to purchase Waiting for Godot, right now, on Amazon. By the way, Amazon never existed when I began my journey!
Keep an eye out for my upcoming book aptly titled “Green Card: Survival Tips 101”