In the past year much has been made over the issue of immigration to the United States. But unfortunately it is not a cut and dry issue; there are many grey areas.
Along with the issue of undocumented workers who come over seeking a better life and spend their days harvesting produce for minimal wages; there are a great number of people who actually come into the country with a legal visitor’s visa and simply fail to leave.
But even the process of obtaining a visa can be a difficult and costly process.
In a recent interview, Israeli born musician Snir Yamin spoke on the lengthy process involved to become a legal immigrant to the United States.
After making a visit to the U.S. For a performance, Yamin made the decision to move to the United States.
Making a search online and a great deal of research, he discovered that the United States offers a wide variety of visa options. As a musician, Yamin’s option was the O-1 visa.
Trying to work through the process alone, he was denied a work visa on his first attempt in 2014. Yamin said that the decision was a good thing, because it got him motivated.
Before trying again, Yamin secured himself an agent – who also served as his sponsor. While working on the getting his visa Yamin could visit the U.S. But he could not earn any money for the performances he gave.
Yamin noted that the process can be a long one because of the mountain of paperwork involved. As a musician, he had to not only prove that he is a musician; but also, a musician at the top of his craft. Such proof included press articles, testimonials from people he had worked with, proof of song and record sales, and his chart successes for downloads and streaming.
Yamin figures that it cost him between three and five thousand dollars to obtain his O-1 visa plus another $1,200 to expedite the process so that he could give a paid performance.
Once Yamin obtained his visa, he had to repeat the process for his new bride. Finally getting the approval, the Yamins moved to the United States in September of 2016 but the visa is only good for three years when he will have to repeat the process all over again.
Yamin pointed out that an immigrant with a visa (even a green card and citizenship) can be revoked for criminal behaviour.
Knowing that they wanted to stay in the U.S., the Yamins opted to apply for a green card.
Once an immigrant begins the process of applying for a green card, they cannot leave the country until the decision has been made to grant or deny the request. Even though they have family back in Israel, Snir and his wife cannot go back to see the family.
The green card application process requires numerous forms – each of which has a fee of at least $100 attached to to. While a language requirement to speak English is not needed for a green card, a medical exam is required and has a fee of $450.
Both visa and green card applications also require an extensive criminal background check.
Yamin noted that the application process for a green card runs about $12,000 per person.
It is clear that applying for legal status to the United States is a costly venture open only to those persons with access to large amounts of money. But at the same time, those people who have access to that kind of money required for legal status are well off enough that they have no need of seeking a better way of life in another country.
America is and always has been a nation of mostly immigrants whose early residents left everything behind to find a better life for those who followed. Somewhere along the way those concepts have been forgotten and replaced by the all nightly dollar.
feature photo credit: By Timo Kohlenberg, as Flickr user timokohlenberg – https://www.flickr.com/photos/timokohlenberg/1356491897/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38176999