Thursday, April 1, 2010

Employment Visa

Three weeks ago i was offered a job. It was a junior test engineer position. The owner of the company was willing to sponsor me for a visa. He told me to do the research on the necessary steps. Thanks to some good people i was referred to an immigration attorney that specializes in employment visas.

I went to her SF offices, and braced myself. I don't like getting my hopes up. Have done that too much in the past.

As i sat in her office waiting room i let myself daydream, of how maybe, just maybe this surreal life would soon be over. I thought of how it would be to not have it nagging in the back of my mind, that thought " no tienes papeles". Of how it seems so impossible, still after 21 years, to fully wrap my mind around the idea of how i don't "belong" or exist in my own home.

Then the day dream really took off, with thoughts of finally helping my aging parents pay off their debts, of getting a drivers license, of traveling, of being able to live with out fear, of the feeling of normality.

The appointment lasted 30 minutes. Essentially this it what it came down to: The company can submit an application to sponsor me, but the wait is 8 years, during which time i would remain undocumented. The cost is in the tens of thousands. So, if i wanted to do this i would be 36 by the time that i would be able to work for the employer that sponsored me.

I've always had this naive idea that a company could sponsor you for a visa. I remember i spent the entire summer of 2008 applying to every single company in the silicon valley, thinking that maybe one company would sponsor me. Now i had the company willing to sponsor me and the system failed me.

The attorney told me that this sponsorship process was actually not designed to provide legalization to out of status immigrants, but rather those with student or H1B visas. I thanked her, and told her i appreciated her time. She did not charge me for the visit.

As i was walking out of her office she said "Gabriel, how old are you?"

28, I replied.

"have you thought about getting married?"


  1. I, like many other know that feeling way too well and I like many others, have heard the same thing over and over, "why don't you get married?" Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi,
    Apologies for using a comment on your entry to contact you.

    My name is Ana Lucia Gonzalez and I am currently writing a story about the generation 1.5 for the BBC News website in London.

    I would like to talk to you about your experiences, would you be happy to do this?

    If so, please reply back to my email, Then we can decide how and when the interview would be. It would be just about your experiences and you would be able to remain anonymous.

    Ana Lucia Gonzalez
    BBC News website

  3. Keep your spirits high Gabe. At least you were able to find a sponsor willing to help you and utilize your skills.

    You are a great engineer, writer, musician, etc. Maybe the whole marriage thing will work out too.

  4. Gabriel. You need to sound tougher. For some reason you always come across as weak. I'm not saying you are.

    Yes, this life sucks, but it would nice if once in a while you wrote a "happy post" in here. Maybe if you do it, you won't sound as depressing as you do most of the time.

    My life changed when I stopped feeling sorry for my situation (circa 2005) and stopped thinking of all the things that would be different if I had papers.

    Yes, I could be making about $25 an hour. But I'm not going to let my status drag me down.

    Now I have a happy existence, and I don't know it I would be able to say that if I had had papers all this time.

    Oh, and don't forget to e-mail that Ana Lucia Gonzalez, she sounds hot. Who knows, maybe she has papers ;-).

    Just give her a taste of your charm.

  5. hahaha @Juan. I've had my lawyers visit as well and it was the same as yours. You just end up leaving more depressed than before. Juan also has a point which I myself have also done. This whole not having papers thing is just situational, things will get better before you know it.

  6. Good luck in your journey.
    I would marry someone in the blink of an eye. Remember this legality or lack thereof does not define us, we are individuals artists, engineers, accountants, teachers. It just so happens we are illegal and that will not be the case for all our lives, it cannot be.
    After all regardless of every possible criticism we are here, this is our home, the U.S. is our home.

  7. Oh Juan as usual sounding cool.I think your life changed the day you found out there were adult diapers. Remember that this blog shows us a point of view that not many people understand we grew up here. Yet we are not welcome here and still we all make the best of it...

  8. This post doesn't sound depressing to me. It sounds real. Just raw life for those of us in that situation.

    Marriage, I've considered it. Yet, I reject it with everything I am because I know deep down that God's plan for my life doesn't include bending and molding to fit with the ways of this world.

    Keep your head up! We will win this fight!

  9. I've always felt that it was the system that was broken. For someone to have to wait decades is fucking ridiculous. I live in L.A. but I used to work at the INS center in Laguna Niguel.What a long ass drive. I wasn't an INS agent/case worker but one of the underlings. The "real" agents really looked down on us. We worked for who ever the contractor was at the time hired to process paperwork FOR the agents. As for the agents, a lot of them were real jerks. They thought they were the shit. And real idiots as well. Some had a hard time speaking english. I found out you only needed a high school diploma to be one. It's like so many of them forgot that these folders full of paperwork, family pictures, stories, were it and nothing else. They would forget that these were real people with real lives they were dealing with. I would know as I was one of the few who had access to the other side of the hallway where they worked because I had to deliver buckets of files daily. I got to know a lot of people there, I was the cute girl everybody liked. hehe

    But I digress.

    Same goes for the vast majority of the underlings. BARELY spoke english, couldn't care less about the work they were doing. underpaid. We made 8 to 11 bucks an hour. Data entry 13. Supervisors made 14. Can you believe that?? For a job you'd think was so highly important!

    This is how it goes:

    Agent needs am A # and send it to us. We process it and send it back. They need something else we enter it, or print it, and file it. etc

    Sometimes I'd see a folder still in the outgoing crate that hasn't moved in 2 weeks or more because no one knows where its going and no one gives a damn anyway.

    Applications would PILE UP through the incoming mail and Data entry could not keep up.They probably didn't want to anyway because then people would know that you can work more and would raise your quota. Under staffed. They worked a lot of OT on the weekends though.You'd think they could afford to hire more people given the lousy wages they were paying or at least boost moral or do something to showed they cared about the people that worked there. Everyone hated their jobs. Most came through temp agency's that were given ideas that they'd be given a gov job that sounded really important. Instead you were given a smock and stink eye's from the rest of the building. There was no real strict criteria to get a job there hence the lack of work ethic and job skill.

    I could go on forever.

    I feel for everyone who is struggling without papers trying to work hard, support their family, and have a real life. My 2 aunts are undocumented one is motivated and wants to go to school, the other has worked at mcdonalds for over 10 years to support her kids. My ex is undocumented and from what I hear struggles daily still having worked at home depot for years because there was no where else to go, my friend came illegally with her little kids and as they are in highs school now debates whether they should go back to mexico because she fears there will be nothing for them when they graduate and assimilate anymore.

    I only hope that someone who does give a shit on the high rung of the ladder will someday care about the people who are waiting in line and recognize them as real people and not just case numbers.