So, after all my excitement about potentially jump-starting my brain again, heading back to work and, most importantly, finally having enough disposable income to plan a trip home and introduce dear Henry to my family and friends…it all came to a screeching halt yesterday afternoon.
As a UK citizen with no American family, and applying “cold” to a new company (i.e. not transferring directly from Firm A (UK office) to Firm A (US office)), the only visa I’m eligible for, that would allow me to work, is the H-1B visa: “Person in Specialty Occupation”.
There are 65,000 H-1B visas available annually for the entire country. Last year, it took 10 weeks to reach the cap. This year, a mere 5 days. Five days. 120 measly hours, and it was all over. In short, all this means that I am now not eligible to work until October 2014 (and that’s assuming that I’m one of the “lucky” 85,000 next year – the government has now been forced to initiate a lottery system to allocate H-1Bs to qualified applicants).
I must admit that I had really started to warm to the idea of returning to work. I’d spoken to a couple of like-minded Mom friends who have recently made the leap themselves, and they had absolutely no regrets. They gave me some great info on childcare options, nanny etiquette, and potential family politics. Consequently, I had dreamily started to plan trips back to the UK, a face lift for the Dream House, and (gasp!) a cleaner!
So, what now?
Well, my only other option is to work hard to push our Green Card application forward. Applying for the Green Card also means applying for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The EAD should arrive long before the Green Card, but unfortunately, this is one of those infuriating “how long is a piece of string?” situations. It could arrive 2 months before the Green Card. Or it could arrive next week.
And as for the Green Card? Well, that could apparently be anything from 6 months to 6-10 years. The current H-1B status does not fill me with much hope.
Just how long will my (potential) future employers hold out for l’il ole me?
I think this is what I am finding so hard. The great unknown. I get these little tidbits of temptation and hope, and I get all excited about the potential for me and my family. And then it all comes to nothing, and I’m left terribly deflated and bereft. Even though I wasn’t actively seeking work, having it almost fall in my lap has shifted my mindset, and made me a bit more anxious, a little less patient, and a lot more frustrated by the endless piles of laundry and interminable tidying of toys.
And therein lies the problem that the big fish like Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Facebook face. They bring over their fabulously talented, experienced and motivated “skilled” workers from foreign shores, they cover the huge expense of an international relocation, and they pay for these sponsored business visas. And a few short years years later, the kids go to school, the unemployable wives get bored and restless, and these disenchanted families realise that maybe, they’d be better off back at home with old friends, family and, most importantly, options!!
I don’t mean this to be an overly negative post. We have now lived in the United States for 20 months and 1 day. It is definitely starting to feel like home – not least because my son is a little Yankee Doodle Dandy, through and through. Evie sounds more and more like a local every day (she calls me “Mom”, and says she wants to “get outta here” if she’s bored of a place) and I am starting to realise that I have actual friends, rather than “moms that I meet at playdates”.
But the little control freak in me hates not knowing. Maybe I can go back to work. Maybe I can’t. Maybe we’ll get the Green Card in 6 months. But maybe I should actually plan for 2019. Maybe this is all a sign, and I was never meant to go back to Clinical Research at all. Maybe it’s time to reassess.
Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Or…probably I need to take up yoga!