â€˜America is said to be the land of dreams, but for dependent visa holders, it’s just the land of depressionâ€™
For the past five months, Los Angeles based Naina Arora begins her day by logging in to the USCIS portal to check the status of her impending work authorization.
A qualified professional with a stellar career, she finds the same message staring back at her face every morning. The updateâ€“ â€œCase was Received,â€ haunts her for the rest of the day reminding her of how static her life has become.
When Arora came to the US, back in November 2018, she never imagined that her days in this land of opportunities will be filled with disappointments about the delays and unknown timelines.
Read: USCIS to expedite EAD renewals for healthcare workers (December 29, 2021)
â€œWhen I got married in 2018 and planned to travel to the US, I was aware of the dependency on an H4 visa, but never in my life thought that the USCIS with such delays would put us into such a mental trauma,â€ she tells the American Bazaar from her home in Los Angeles.
â€œMy career was of paramount importance to me and thatâ€™s why I applied for my EAD within two weeks of my landing into the US,â€ Arora says. â€œI was happy to receive the approval in February 2019, which was quite fast and gave me hope to find a job soon.â€
â€œI started looking for jobs, applied for thousands of jobs but only a few responded back saying we like you as a candidate, but can’t hire you because of your visa status, others didn’t even reply back,â€ she says.
â€œStill, I kept on trying, did networking wherever it was possible, every day I used to go out to coffee shops to talk to people and one day through networking I found an entry-level job,â€ Arora says.
â€œEven though I had a good compliance background in India for three years, I started from scratch. Here in the US, job search gets more difficult when you are not from tech background and I faced the same difficulty.â€
â€œIt took me a year to find a job and I started my job in December 2019. I was still hopeful for a bright future. I started working hard thinking there won’t be any career gaps now. I worked hard and within a year I even got promoted, Life seemed on track, and then Covid-19 hit.
â€œIn September 2021, during the pandemic my EAD expired along with my visa. I became anxious because by now I had been hearing stories about work permit delays.
â€œThankfully my company gave me four months of unpaid immigration leave which was a slight relief, but not getting to earn anything within this period with no future timelines, remains a painâ€
â€œWhile awaiting my EAD I go through mental trauma every day. We have financial issues and I just can’t help my family.
â€œIn America where the government is paying for the unemployed, why are we the only ones having bad luck?â€ Arora asked.
â€œDue to the delays in my visa and EAD, I can’t even go back to my home country, India. Last year I lost my father due to Covid-19, and I still can’t go home because if I go to India, it might cause more issues with EAD and I am just not ready for that. â€œ
Read: Work visa holders question new USCIS mission statement (February 10, 2022)
â€œIt’s been a lot. We request the government to take some action. At least have an option for H4 EAD premium processing that they have been talking about since 2021.
â€œWe pay a lot of money in taxes and don’t get any benefits. At least give us healthcare benefits which is a basic necessity, If we donâ€™t have an EAD so that we are not paying that out of pocket. We are even ready to pay for a processing fee, but at least do something.
â€œAll such things have badly impacted my mental health and it’s not how I had imagined America,â€ Arora says. â€œIt’s said to be the land of dreams but for dependent visa holders, it’s nothing other than the land of depression.â€