Suspending Immigration

A few friends texted us checking in on how we’re doing after news broke out of a late night tweet from the President of the United States in which he said he would “suspend immigration” for 60 days.

The reactions to the tweet were predictable in that it did two things at scale. It shed further light on the polarization of political discourse in the US. And, it also made sure various government agencies and officials, who were surprised by the tweet, scrambled to provide more guidance and clarity.

We finally learnt that they were suspending green card processing for 60 days in consulates abroad. Many suspect 60 days is just the start of a longer hiatus. And, many others still wonder on what other changes are coming down the pipe.

A friend shared an article on The New York Times about the panic and anger this sparked within the Indian diaspora. It touches on a lot of the daily immigration challenges we face.

For example, I am on a 20+ year queue for the green card (that’s an optimistic estimate – some estimate it to be closer to 40-50 years). This is different from folks who are born in other nations because there’s a yearly limit to the number of green card issues allocated per country of birth. This means that you can get a green card in 1-2 years if you’re neither Indian or Chinese, 5 years if you are Chinese, and god-knows-how-long if you’re Indian.

My employment, thus, is tied to a visa sponsored by my employer. If I lose my job, I have 60 days to find another one or I’m out of the country. If my visa is due for extension in the coming months (which it is), the renewal better come through before my work status expires. If it doesn’t, I’ll need to be off the payroll.

And, of course, all his becomes 2x more complex if you are married.

Also, lest I forget, we are at a far better stage in the process than the many who are either hoping for the visa lottery to give them a lucky break or waiting for a benevolent employer to sponsor their green card.

I haven’t written about this stuff in the past for two reasons. First, these are first world problems – I am fortunate to have skills that enable back up plans if none of this works out.

Second, it admittedly took us a year or two to learn how to deal with it and talk about it without provoking anxiety. We had multiple sleepless nights in 2017 when a random tweet or piece of news about the administration’s plans would result in long conversations about what our options might be, etc.

Luckily, we’ve learnt to take the uncertainty within our stride since and focus hard on what we control. Extra hard when such tweets pop up.

We’re all dealing with a lot of complexity at the moment. Such events exponentially add to the level of complexity. But, it comes with the territory when you are low on the list of electoral priorities.

So, again, all we can do is focus on what we control.

Here’s to that.