In Consensus, the card game I co-created, we have a prompt that drastically changed in meaning after the elections.
While I’m not a U.S. citizen, I felt the effects of the Trump administration through longer application wait times, bouts of stress every time a new H1-B proclamation came out & general visa-related anxiety.
With the new administration (🥳), I now point to myself every time this prompt comes up.
Despite 4 years of heightened visa anxiety, I wanted to take time to reflect on the good side of the visa struggles — the lessons it taught me and perhaps millions of other immigrants.
One of my most popular blog posts is “From Near Deportation to LinkedIn PM”. I described my path to finding a job as anxiety-inducing, soul crushing, & emotionally fluctuating. In it, you’ll read about how I faced imminent deportation but stayed resilient to land a coveted role.
Way back when, for my first full-time job hunt, I was offered a role at a prestigious consulting firm, even got flown to Florida for the new hire welcome party, then got my offer rescinded when they found out I was an international student. 🤯
While my stories sound gut-wrenching, surprising and extreme, the unfortunate thing is my stories aren’t uncommon ones.
I give a lot of kudos to all visa strugglers out there. Whatever success you achieve, you are 10x more worthy of it because of the extra hard work you put in (and plethora of documents you had to deal with) compared to your peers. Own it.
Way back when, I attended a workshop to process papers for studying abroad. Someone jokingly compared the behavior of international and non-international students in the room. The international students (myself included) came prepared with all documents, papers & passports organized to a T. The non-international students came with missing documents, messy files and, sometimes, plain nothing.
The consequence of a single typo or misplaced file causes MONTHS of additional waiting (and additional anxiety!) We’re forced to get our shxt together.
(3) Focus on what you can control.
Work and travel permit applications can take from 3 months to 7 months to a year to process (and were only rising because of the previous administration and the pandemic).
The wait times are excruciatingly long, but I think what’s more crippling is the variability between those wait times. Why couldn’t USCIS have UI like Uber or Doordash, with ETAs & progress updates?
Many times I’ve probed my lawyers about how we can expedite the process. Is there someone inside we can talk to? Does my role or compensation make things faster? If I write a sweet letter to someone, will they be kind to my application?
The best that we can do is keep our files in order, submit documents as early as possible (a week’s delay compounds more than one thinks!), and focus our energy on what we can control. Everything else is a waste of energy and anxiety sweat.
The immigration process is far from perfect, and even with a more supportive president, it will take time for processes, wait times, & backlogs to get corrected. But my lawyer’s hopeful, so I’m hopeful and I hope immigrants reading this, facing parallel struggles are hopeful, too.
👀 Nudges of the week
If you’re an immigrant founder, check out:
Resilient Venture Studios - apply to their program for B2B SaaS immigrant founders by Jan 31
Unshackled Ventures - VC firm investing specifically in immigrant founders
Your friendly neighborhood immigrant,