Living in the US, without a job left me depressed and socially cut-off: Indian IT professional

Image via USCIS.gov

Spouse with H-4 visa without work permit laments lack of community support and understanding.

Ankita Srivastava had to leave her impending promotion and a high-paying job in an Indian IT giant, when she made the tough decision of coming to the US to stay with her husband.

She knew that she would be on a dependent visa initially and would be unable to pursue her career. But she was also at that stage in her life when she wanted to be with her husband.

“My husband was already working in the US, while I had a great career back home. I was due for a promotion from a system engineer to the position of a consultant,” she says.

“We decided to be on long distance relationship for a while as both of us were doing great professionally. But suddenly, I found myself pregnant and both of us decided it was best that we are together.”

Ankita knew that she would be without a job for some time but was positive that given her skills and experience she would be able to find work. The couple first tried to secure an EAD or work permit for Ankita, but her husband’s company was not filing any new I-140 immigrant petitions for foreign workers for fear of rejections.

RELATED: The H4 visa conundrum (April 21, 2013)

Undeterred, Ankita tried to secure an H-1B visa for highly skilled for herself. “I have an electrical engineering from a premier college in India, I had a long experience, I had a strong skill set besides I would notice job vacancies requiring my kind of expertise,” she said.

“However, the road wasn’t easy. Most employers or consultants I would meet would agree that they need an employee with my background but were cagey about sponsoring visas. I tied to refresh my skills by enrolling in short term courses while continuing my job hunt.”

However, it was during this phase that Ankita discovered that there was an utter lack of support or compassion from within the community.

“During social gatherings, I would meet other women, some of whom who came to US soon after marriage and had never pursued a career in India. These women vehemently announced that I would never find a job. When I questioned them why, all they could say was – ‘Trump.’

RELATED: DHS tells federal court that H4 EAD termination rule is still being reviewed by OMB (September 10, 2019)

“The other set of Indians I met here were those who were meaningfully employed. When I approached them for job references or guidance, all I got was false promises. They would in fact discourage me and tell me to stop my search.

“It was almost as if these Indian green card holders were so happy to find their route to citizenship, they almost wanted no other Indian to get successful. And this was the most hurtful part.”

However, Ankita’s efforts finally paid off and she did find a prospective employer who filed an H-1B application on her behalf. Luckily she also got picked up in the H1B lottery. But this was followed by an RFE or Request For Evidence.

“I was positive that my credentials are accurate and we will get through this. But now my prospective employer would not respond to my query,” she said. “I sent pleading e-mails, I requested, I even explained to them that I have invested all my time and energy on this job offer, but well, they decided not to file a reply.”

Ankita says that she learnt that in the current immigration atmosphere, a lot of not-so-big employers do not want to defend their employees for fear of attracting negative reputation.

Now, with her hopes of H-1B dashed, Ankita utilizes her time by taking care of her son. It’s been five years since she is out of the job market.

RELATED: No work permits for H4 visa holders: lawsuit filed by Save Jobs USA (April 27, 2015)

“It stings when many Indian IT professionals tell me to stop trying now as I may have lost touch with what I once knew,” she said. “I try to help people with whatever skills I have. I have often taken cooking classes for my neighbors for free. I knew if I had a work visa, I could be paid for that too.”

The family is now maxing out of their H-1B visa limit in a few months. “We are going back to India and we may be looking at Australian permanent residency. America is a wonderful place but it has very restrictive policies for high-skilled workers.

“I wish that the high-skilled community apart from just raising voices for green card backlogs also steps in to help and at least support many like them, who arrived here leaving professional lives behind,” Ankita said.

“During my years in the US, I struggled with depression and isolation. Funnily, when you are not employed people also assume that you would not have intelligent topics to discuss” she said.

“My social life got circuited and my professional friends too drifted apart as we now had less in common. It’s been a tough journey.”

(As told to Zofeen Maqsood. Ankita’s last name has been changed on her request.)

ALSO READ:

H4 work authorization may be next on Trump’s hit list, says Sheela Murthy (March 9, 2017)

H-4 and H-1: Time for Indian immigrants to speak up on immigration policy, says author Amy Bhatt (January 5, 2019)

New bill proposes to let H-1B workers switch jobs, H4 visa holders to work, F-1 holders to apply for green card (September 14, 2018)

End of the road for H-4 EAD program? (April 24, 2018)

Trump administration may soon end H-4 Visa Rule: report (February 1, 2018)

Tech industry urges USCIS not to cancel H-4 spouses’ work permits (January 19, 2018)

Trump to end H-4 EAD program for spouses of H-1B workers (December 15, 2017)

Trump administration asks for more time on H4 work authorization (April 4, 2017)

Regulations on H-4 EAD program on cards; may even be terminated, says Murthy Law Firm (November 24, 2017)

H4 visa-holders’ work authorization is under review: report (February 7, 2017)

H-1B visa exhibition at the Smithsonian: of goddess who gives visa, to women on H4 status in shackles (November 24, 2015)

H4 visa holders start to get EAD work permits from USCIS (June 29, 2015)

Save Jobs USA petition to not issue work permits to H4 visa holders dismissed (May 27, 2015)

DHS starts to accept employment authorization applications from H4 visa holders(May 26, 2015)

COLUMN: Save Jobs USA’s civil complaint against DHS to stop H4 visa holders from getting EAD cards is discriminatory (May 22, 2015)

No work permits for H4 visa holders: lawsuit filed by Save Jobs USA (April 27, 2015)

H4 visa holders can start a business after getting EAD: Sheela Murthy (March 9, 2015)

458,177 H4 visas issued in 6 years between 2008-2013 (February 26, 2015)

COLUMN: EAD cards for H4 visa holders: USCIS needs to give it to all of them(February 24, 2015)

EAD cards for H4 visa holders: green cards better solution, says IEEE-USA (February 24, 2015)

H4 visa holders can apply for EAD cards beginning May 26, 2015 (February 24, 2015)

EAD cards to H4 visa holders: Immigration Voice lauds Barack Obama February 24, 2015

H4 visa: a primer (December 9, 2014)

Final rule on work permits for H4 visa holders by December 2014-January 2015(November 23, 2014)

COLUMN: Obama’s speech has not made anything clear for immigrants waiting for Green Cards, H4 visa holders hoping for work permit (November 21, 2014)

COLUMN: Agony for H4 visa holders, as Obama’s executive action delays work permits (November 21, 2014)

COLUMN: As Republicans take control of the Senate, dream of H4 visa holders to get work permits, expedited Green Cards, is over (November 5, 2014)

Work permits for H4 visa holders will end mental anguish for almost 100,000 spouses in the US (June 10, 2014)

Indian women on H4 visas eager to get back to work (May 8, 2014)

Many H4 visa holders will get work permits this year (May 7, 2014)

DHS proposes to allow limited number of H4 visa holders work permits (April 8, 2014)

For H4 visa holders from India, the X visa all-important (May 26, 2013)

4 Comments

  1. Her intention was to make her offspring a US citizen like others from Central and South American immigrants. Not getting a job is secondary issue. I will surely support to amend the US constitution to bar any already pregnant immigrants. A medical test will be performed and if a pregnancy is detected then her visa will be cancelled or will be on hold unless the child is born in the country where she belongs to.

    • Fair enough. But how do you prevent them from getting pregnant once they’re here? All of these indians produce a boatload of anchor babies in addition to blatant chain migration by bringing in entire south indian villages. How could anyone prevent that from happening? Already there are 8 million indians in the US, 2.5 million of whom are illegal and/or overstayed their visas. Getting rid of them is gonna be tough.

  2. She made the decision by her own volition and ultimately decided that being with her husband was more important than her career progression. This extends to the family’s choice to move to the US for a job. America did not force them to come here, they chose to come here themselves. The burden is on them to understand how the immigration system works and the various policies in place. They’re not children anymore, they have to bear responsibility for their own actions; they have nobody to blame but themselves if they just realized now they made some terrible life choices.

    Also, one does not “suddenly” find oneself pregnant. Lack of proper family planning is again something they need to own up to and not blame others for.

  3. Namrata Pandey

    Came to the USA following her hubby is it? She’s nothing but another greedy Indian, after more money, more this and more that. They can’t have enough it seems! Where will she stop!! No H1B? Then why not go back to India? Wat’s wrong with that? No one invited you here, no one forcing you to stay! Go pack your bags today, and go back to India. You have many jobs there your talents will be utilized and you might even earn some money!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.