H4 is a form of enslavement

Sometimes I get the feeling people think H4s should be grateful for this “eternal holiday” kind of life we are put in. Well, news flash: when you don’t choose it (doesn’t matter what it is), you are not going to be happy about it for very long. You may try to like it, you may even like it some days, but in general being forced to be financially supported by someone is humiliating and degrading. Most H4s I know feel pretty much the same way. Most H4s were working, independent ladies/men who gave it all up to join their husbands. Most of the time with hopes H4 wouldn’t really be that bad or that somehow they could get a working/student Visa soon. From what I gather, some people have to wait for 5, 6 even more years.
It is a stressful and unnecessary situation that puts a lot of pressure in marriages and the individuals that have to go through it. It’s about time someone realizes this is absurd!
And please don’t expect us to go about this as if it is business as usual because it isn’t. Most husbands don’t understand why we’re so pissed off about it because they have their normal life, they go to work, they do what they love, they work with amazing, fun people, so for them it is life as usual. Try to put yourself in our shoes though and imagine what it would be like if all of that was taken away from you and overnight you have to re-invented yourself, in a strange country, with no friends, no family and in some cases without speaking the language. Try to imagine having to stop being a creative, useful person to being a … leisure person (as some people call it). It’s not that we don’t try to like and enjoy it. We do. But it’s not the same thing trying to be busy and actually being busy. Of all people H1Bs should know how important having a job and doing what you like is. Heck, you moved all the way across the freaking globe to do yours! Why on earth would you think that being forced to not doing it should be taken lightly and gladly?
I very often wonder if President Obama and the First lady have heard of this and if they would care. When I read about their immigration plans it seems there is only one issue: the Mexican border. It’s a big country, I know, there are tons of problems to be solved. H4 is also one of them and I never even heard one relevant person mention it. And how does that makes us feel? Even more invisible…

H4s meet in San Francisco

Ever since I moved to the US I wondered where all the H4s were and how many we are. I googled it, but couldn’t find much information. I found some blogs, a book written by an H4 with tips for dealing with this situation, even a video on Youtube of a TV show talking about what’s it like to be an H4 (based on a documentary an H4 had done). There didn’t seem to be support groups or meetings though. I ended up meeting a few H4 wives through my husband’s colleagues, but not that many and we don’t all meet all the time.
Today though and thanks to Meetup (and the initiative of the organiser) 6 of us met in San Francisco and had a blast! Nothing crazy. We sat down for coffee and a chat, but it was great to be able to do just that with people who know exactly what it’s like to be the holder of an enslaving, ridiculous visa. I have met 4 amazing women, who just like all other H4s I have met before, are brilliant, well-educated professionals, who gave it all up so that the person they love could follow their dream. From our conversations I felt that, in a way, none of us are really prepared for the reality of being an H4, and it only really hits you in the face like a speed train once you get here and your husband goes to work, and you are all alone, with no family, no friend, nowhere to go and nothing to do. The first months are the worst. Normally you would pick yourself up and start getting a life, a purpose to get up in the morning, something to talk about when people ask you “how was your day?”. I also got the feeling that I wasn’t the only one being treated as a non-person just because I don’t have a job. For example, people wondering why you do certain things just because you don’t have a job. Why wouldn’t we though? It’s not like we’re dead. We had jobs before, we have degrees, and we will work in the future, hopefully. We still have dreams and ambitions and if we don’t work it’s because someone doesn’t let us, not because we don’t want to.

We all wonder how long this is going to take and deep down we hope it doesn’t take too long. We all fear the fact that we are suddenly not independent anymore, and we all feel irritated with the fact that this H4Visa demeans us and degrades us by not allowing us to work and have a Social Security # (without which you can’t do anything in this country). One thing none of us understands is why we can’t even work as a freelancer for companies in other countries? If anyone out there has an answer, please let me know, I would love to hear it.
Another thing we fail to understand is why waste so much talent and brains when we are already here. Might as well contribute positively for the economy.
Well at least now we have each other’s back. These Meetups are going to keep happening and all H4s are welcome to join!

Meetup group for H4s in the South Bay area

Heads up to all H4s in the Bay Area! There’s a support group on Meetup for us. The first meeting will be on the 19th of April. Join us!

South Bay H4 visa spouses support group

Sunnyvale, CA
255 H4s

This is a group for H4 Visa spouses living in Silicon Valley who want to get together and create a support network for those in the same situation. Let’s share experiences and…

Check out this Meetup Group →

Quick update: There is also a Meetup group for H4’s in San Francisco. First meeting tomorrow!!! http://www.meetup.com/H4-SF-FTW/

Some hope for H4s

I have heard some news today that got me all worked up! Apparently the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is proposing to extend the availability of employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1Bs. You can check the rule here: http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201210&RIN=1615-AB92

But basically it is as follows: “The proposed group of H-4 spouses who would be eligible for work authorization are those whose H-1B spouses are in the process of seeking lawful permanent resident status through employment and have extended their H-1B status beyond six years on that basis. Thus, under the proposed terms, an H-4 spouse whose H-1B spouse has not extended his/her H-1B status beyond 6 years based on an employment-based green card process will not be eligible to apply for an employment authorization document (EAD).”

Although it is still not the ideal situation, I’m glad that some changes are taking place (hopefully this rule will be accepted sometime soon) and that it is understood that “The benefits of this rule are retaining highly-skilled persons who intend to adjust to lawful permanent resident status. This is important when considering the contributions of these individuals to the U.S. economy, including advances in entrepreneurial and research and development endeavors, which are highly correlated with overall economic growth and job creation. In addition, the proposed amendments would bring U.S. immigration laws more in line with other countries that seek to attract skilled foreign workers.” (as included in the Anticipated Costs and Benefits of the Rule).

So, although not all H4s would be eligible, some certainly are. And the rest of us (yeah, it doesn’t apply to me yet) have to keep waiting for it to happen. While we are at it, we may as well do something useful with our time. Remember to keep busy and healthy. One day it will be your turn! 😉