Privilege is Blind

This is true in many instances but we don’t realize until it hits close to home. One of my closest friends is facing the unknown struggle of a student immigrant.

2 years ago in hopes of a better life, he came to America.

Today, he is hopeless.

With a few tears rolling down his cheek, he told me his H1b visa filing did not go through. The broken system is a lottery that determines the fate of a student immigrant. It dictates the life he or she will live or hope to live.

Back in India, he had a masters in engineering and 2 years of work experience. He decided he wanted to leave the comfort for more opportunity — “in the land of opportunity”. He got accepted to one of the best Universities in the US. (I won’t say which to maintain anonymity of his identity).

The only son of a middle class family in India, put his house on the line to afford an American education. A 16 hour plane trip later he ended up in NYC in a sea of unfamiliar faces and a culture he had only seen on tv. He took it head on, in hopes of a dream coming to life.

After a year of his masters program he landed his first “part time” job. It was a software engineering role at a startup. It was great until he was facing workplace discrimination for not being like the rest.

While his citizen teammates worked 40hr weeks for their full time role, he worked 80 for his part time role. He had no option, if he lost the job he would have to go back to India in 3 months after graduation. On top of that any money coming in is better than no money.

He recently graduated with a masters degree. Since then, he’s started a full time role while earning half the salary of his citizen counterpart.

As he awaits his wife, who he married 7 months ago, he is more scared than ever. Scared that he may lose his job if he doesn’t put in 2–3x the work that his co-workers put in. Scared that the H1B lottery works against him and he has to go back to India. Scared that the the country he’s working so hard to be a part of may kick him out.

Thank you for giving me the perspective. I’ve never been so grateful for being a citizen. I’m sorry I can’t empathize with you more to feel your pain. All I can vow to do is help shape a better country for both you and I.

If you’re an international student with a story feel free to comment below.