In the midst of my moaning about the rapid atrophying of my brain, and the
mind-numbing boredom rewarding experience of entertaining two non-conversational, socially inept, little people all day long, a few of you have asked why I don’t just go back to work.
So, I thought it was maybe time for an update on the visa situation. I think the last time I actually wrote about this was when we visited the American Embassy in London, so you might expect that there would be some progress by now.
A bit of background, to start. We came over to the US on Damyan’s H1B visa, and mine and Evie’s H-4 visas.
The H-4 visa allows immediate family members of H-1B visa holders to come and stay in the US, though they are not eligible to get a Social Security Number (SSN), and cannot be employed. Incidentally, without a SSN, I also cannot apply for any credit cards, store cards or simple reward programs. I can’t build up any credit score, and I can’t get 10% off at the Gap . Essentially, I just don’t really exist.
Damyan’s H-1B visa is a non-immigrant “specialty occupation” visa, which allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers – that “temporary” tag makes both Microsoft and their employees nervous, so most newcomers are supported in applying for their Green Card as soon as possible on arrival to Seattle.
This green card sponsorship is a complex process, and can take years. The first step in that process is labor certification – i.e. proving that there are no qualified US workers for the position being offered.
We arrived in the US 16 months ago. Nearly one and a half years. This week, we received notification that our PERM application (gobbledygook for the labor certification) has been certified, which means that we can finally get our I-140 (immigrant petition for alien worker) application underway. Otherwise known as “Step 2”. According to an analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy, qualified immigrants wait an average of five years or more to get their green card from this point. The EAD (Employment Authorization Document) is usually granted before the green card – however, there are no guarantees. From the various people I’ve spoken to, the EAD could be granted at any time, with no warning – it might be 6 months after we apply for the green card, or it could be 6 weeks before we receive it. So, erm, yes, it looks like it might be a long time before I can go back to work.
Much as I adore my beautiful Pepperlings, I’m not convinced I’m cut out for this “Stay at home Mom” malarkey. I miss feeling respected, or important. I miss feeling proud of myself for a job well done at the end of the day. Yeah, yadda, yadda yadda, I know that motherhood is “the most important job in the world”, or whatever. But when you spend all day wiping bottoms, mopping up pureed carrot, and trying to decipher whether “chada” means “chocolate”, “toilet” or “Dora”, you don’t exactly feel a sense of great achievement once you finally collapse on the sofa at 8pm. It’s more…relief that you’ve survived another day, and a faint sense of dread at the one that’s coming.
Erm, so, no, I wouldn’t exactly say I’m the earth mother type.
In an ideal world, I would work three days a week – enough to maintain my sanity, exercise my brain, bring in some extra income, whilst keeping my 14 year career on track – and spend the remaining 4 bonding with my babies, attending playdates, and getting to know other moms and families in this part of the world. But, alas, it’s just not to be. I keep intending to write about the lack of support for working mums in the US, and I will do soon, but for now, suffice to say that there is nothing like the UK’s flexible working policy for parents in the US.
My only other option, should I want to go back to work, would be to apply for sponsorship from either my old company, or one of their competitors. I already know, from my preliminary investigations before we left the UK (and before I knew that we had Henry on the way), that there would be no part-time options – if it’s a choice between a foreign worker wanting flexible hours, and requiring piles of expensive, time-consuming employment authorisation paperwork, and a US citizen willing to commit to the 40+ hours a week, then it’s a no brainer for any potential employer!
I do apologise for all the jargon in this post. I just wanted to make it clear why, as much as I love my babies, our home, and this wonderful part of the world, sometimes….it’s a little tough on my restless, fiercely independent self. I’ve never been very good at sitting still for too long, and I’m absolutely terrible at relying on other people to help, so it’s quite the attitude adjustment to come to terms with the fact that I just do not know if, when or how I might ever regain my independence (or my mental capacity).
All I can say is, it’s just bloody lucky that they are so damned cute!!