The Green Card Dreams

It happens to me more and more often that, upon hearing questions like: „Why can’t you stay over there as long as you’d like?”, or: „Why don’t you find a job there?”, I need to take a deep breath and count to ten. It’s time to finally explain it.

As a Pole, in order to get to the United States, you need a visa. Getting a tourist visa valid for 10 years doesn’t mean you can stay in the States for 10 years. Any stay exceeding six months makes you into an illegal alien. Even during those 6 months  you cannot work here legally. I can almost hear you say: „But you can always come back to Poland for a couple of days and fly to the States again!”. It’s claver only in theory. If you stay across the pond for six months, then return to your country for a while and then plan to simply go to the land of McDonald’s again, you will make the immigration officials suspicious. They will begin to wonder – often rightfully so – what were you doing for those couple of months in the USA and how were you able to suport yourself in a country much more affluent than your own for such a long time. They will start to suspect that you may have been working illegaly for your dollars. Which means that you won’t only raise suspicion, but also negative feelings of the immigration officers.

What are the ways of staying in the States for more than 6 months? For that, you need a Green Card. How to get it? Marry an American citizen (gay marrigies have the same immigration rights since recently). After getting that band of gold, you can apply for a temporary Green Card. In order to get it, you receive an appointment for an interview with a specialist in psychology, who is to determine whether your new union is genuine. Is marriage the only way? No – you can also find a US-based employer who will want to hire and „sponsor” you – in other words, to prove to the US government that you are an indispensable asset for his or her company. Unfortunately, it is not easy to find an employer who will be willing to go through the tedious process of sponsoring. (It usually takes a couple of years, even though the cycle has been sped up recently.)

You can also apply for a different kind of visa (you’ll be surprised by how many are there), such as the artistic visa. These take a lot of time, too (as well as money – you better prepare a couple of thousands of dollars for a lawyer!). You will need to complete a lot of important documents. You need to have very strong case to apply for a visa of that kind. You need to prove that „there is not a person like you in the United States and that you can – by your presence and work – to contribute to the United Stanes’ continuing growth”.

Now you understand why the questions I mentioned before breed so much frustration, especially when your greatest dram is simply to live in a place attunned to your heart beat, without the need of leaving it every couple of months. Those who never experienced that feeling won’t ever understand why the Green Card is the biggest object of desire – a Holy Grail of sorts – of which we dream every hour of every day (and with little hope of ever receiving it). We don’t give up, though, and keep fighting for it.